Brentford stunned Manchester United 4-0 at the Gtech Community Stadium in London on Saturday.
It was one of the most remarkable victories in the history of the London-based club. Josh Dasilva, Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo scored for the home side in the 10th, 18th, 30th and 35th minute, respectively.
Meanwhile, Erik Ten Hag’s baptism by fire continued at Manchester United as the Red Devils succumbed to their second successive defeat in the Premier League. United have failed to get a single point off their first two matches and are experiencing one of their worst ever starts.
On that note, we take a look at three factors that stood out in the match.
Manchester United conceded goals by losing possession inside own half
Manchester United had a point to prove against Brentford following the loss to Brighton last week. Cristiano Ronaldo replaced Scott McTominay in the starting 11 that opened against Brighton as United went with a 4-3-3.
The Red Devils dominated ball-possession from the outset, but could not make any incisive moves to slice through the defense. Most of the passes played in midfield were lateral, posing no threat to their opponents. Brentford, meanwhile, played their passes with more speed and purpose.
To make matters worse, United conceded a couple of goals within the first 20 minutes after losing possession inside their own half. First, Ronaldo lost the ball and Dasilva’s shot from the edge of the penalty box slipped under David de Gea. Minutes later, Christian Eriksen, who started in central midfield along with Bruno Fernandes, gave the ball up and Jensen doubled the lead for the Bees.
De Gea was responsible to a large extent for the first two goals Manchester United conceded. He should have stopped Dasilva’s shot and should have played the pass to a better-placed player instead of Eriksen in the second goal. However, the effectiveness of Brentford’s high press cannot be denied in this context.
United attacked with greater intensity, but Brentford piled on the misery
United were taken aback by Brentford’s double strike and started playing with a high line to increase numbers in the opposition half. They succeeded in doing so, but failed to break through the defense as neither of the wingers succeeded in cutting in from the flanks while Ronaldo remained a peripheral figure.
Despite having two playmakers in the form of Eriksen and Rashford, Manchester United neither spread the ball quickly to the flanks nor played probing through balls to the centre-forward. Moreover, the quality of crosses sent in by their fullbacks, who went into overlaps sporadically, were not up to par.
Brentford compounded the visitors’ misery by scoring twice more in the first half. The third goal came through a corner after Diogo Dalot lost his aerial battle with a Brentford player, who headed the ball into the far corner of the goalpost, where Mee succeeded in out-jumping Lisandro Martinez.
The fourth goal came from a brilliant counter-attack that saw a long ball played from the Brentford penalty box to the United half. Mbeumo shrugged off resistance from Luke Shaw to shoot past De Gea.
United made a lot of substitutions, but could not alter scoreline
Ten Hag subbed freely in the second half. Tyrell Malacia, Raphael Varane, McTominay and Anthony Elanga replaced Shaw, Martinez, Fred and Jadon Sancho, respectively. However, the Red Devils still failed to pose a serious threat to Brentford’s goal.
Eriksen went close during the latter part of the second half, the ball skittering wide. Ronaldo struggled to make his presence felt and Rashford was simply not good enough on the day. Malacia injected some pace down the left flank and played a few crosses, but his efforts were not enough to get United a goal.
Meanwhile, Brentford’s defense held firm to register a memorable win. Ten Hag’s United looked a dejected side in the end and the Dutch coach has an uphill task at hand.