Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been criticised over his decision to change tactics against Brighton.
Erik ten Hag abandoned his usual 4-3-3 formation and lined Manchester United up with a 4-3-1-2 approach.
After starting encouragingly, Manchester United were hit by a sucker-punch and Brighton went on to win 3-1.
United debutant Rasmus Hojlund saw a goal ruled out in the first half after Marcus Rashford had carried the ball out of play.
Erik ten Hag criticised over tactics
ESPN expert Julien Laurens laid into Erik ten Hag over his decision, pointing out how it was too easily countered by Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi.
He told ESPN FC: “For the diamond it’s pathetic. I don’t understand how a coach of this level, whether you like Ten Hag or whether you rate him or not, he’s Manchester United manager, for him to make such a bad mistake in a game like this, and thought before, De Zerbi likes to build in the centre, let’s crowd this area and they will find no answer and we will steamroll them, I just don’t understand how he can be so bad.
“Obviously very quickly Brighton found a way, they pushed their Full-backs really high. the diamond midfield for Utd didn’t do much and they were pressing terribly anyway. Probably because they’ve never played like this.”
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He added that the formation particularly did not suit Scott McTominay, adding: “I would have done better than him.”
Ten Hag had planned formation switch against Arsenal
Certainly for Manchester United, the performance and result both backed up assertions that Erik ten Hag made a critical error of judgment.
This was the second home defeat United have suffered to Brighton under Ten Hag, with different managers for the Seagulls, and in both games, the Red Devils came in with experimental tactics.
But it was not a switch designed just to face Brighton, who clearly are not a side to experiment against.
Ten Hag said before kick-off that United had actually intended to play a 4-3-1-2 against Arsenal before the international break.
He told MUTV: “We will be playing slightly different. We already trained with it before Arsenal, but Scott McTominay dropped out before that game.”
Ten Hag has to now decide whether to stick with his formation and fine-tune it, or abandon it entirely after seeing it so ruthlessly ripped apart.