Manchester United’s start to the new Premier League season ended in disappointment with a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday.
And the match was further proof of the need to add reinforcements in midfield and up front. With Anthony Martial‘s injury-enforced absence, there was intrigue as to how Erik ten Hag would shuffle his pack.
The Dutchman opted to start Christian Eriksen as the false 9, a move which did not work out. The Dane did his best but looked short of fitness when having to press from the front.
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He was much better in the second half, just like the rest of his teammates and looked much more comfortable when playing a deeper role.
But starting a season without a recognised striker is criminal. Cristiano Ronaldo’s future remains up in the air and even if he remains, he is still some way away from being match-fit.
And the first substitution made by Ten Hag was withdrawing Fred who had a half to forget. He regularly misplaced passes and just could not make it past the relentless Brighton press.
Will ETH be backed?
The players who seemed to have a brilliant pre-season were most off-colour in the opening 45 minutes. Martial getting injured when needed most has become a recurrent theme.
Sancho and Dalot, who had developed fine understanding down the right flank, seemed lost and Dalot, in particular, looked well off the pace. He did contribute to the goal but defending still seems to be his Achilles heel.
It was important that the result happened in the presence of the Glazers and all United think-tank which includes DoF John Murtough and Sir Alex Ferguson.
It was further proof that the arrival of a midfielder and an attacker remains of paramount importance if United are to salvage something from this season.
A midfielder in the mould of Frenkie de Jong is what is most needed as United failed to build up from the back against such an aggressive side.
And recruiting an attacker, whether that be a striker like Benjamin Sesko or a wide forward like Antony, is equally important.
But till the time these issues are not sorted, fans should prepare for some bumps along the way as Ten Hag realises the size and scope of the task he has just undertaken.