A humiliation that was among the most amazing strikes in the Premier League’s 30-year history, and actually wasn’t all that surprising. The jubilant Brentford, for example, seemed to know exactly what Manchester United were going to do and how they could hurt them. Over and over again until it was an overwhelming 4-0 after just 35 minutes.
That’s a low point in itself, and yet you can’t really say that Erik ten Hag’s new era has plummeted to new depths. It was more of a continuation of everything that came before, an implosion from so many problems accumulated over a decade.
Perhaps the most alarming part is that Ten Hag couldn’t even temporarily prevent this. There was no jolt, no new spark, no impact except for the negative.
This should of course put an even greater focus on fan protests against Glazer ownership under which Manchester United can never be what it should be.
It was a modern day football tragedy that a leveraged takeover should even be allowed to take place and continues to sum up troubles in the England international game.
Perhaps the biggest club in the country is clearly broken, especially in the dressing room.
There are some figures with knowledge of the United squad who speak of ‘football PTSD’, if you will excuse the insensitive use of such a term. They have suffered too much emotional distress, with too much glare.
You can see that in how poorly they react to adversity now. This is the club of Fergie times, Roy Keane and last minute winners.
It summarizes that as the Premier League celebrates their 30th anniversary, the most successful club in the competition came through a second game in just nine months in which they were 4-0 down at half-time. This was around 35 minutes and that against a club that were in the league just over a year ago and are still mostly operating on a league budget.
It shows there are bigger problems at United than expenses.
Christian Eriksen, who was consistently goaded by the Brentford crowd into leaving them over the summer, must have wondered what he actually left them for.
And what about Ten Hag?
Even though he’s been dealt a horrific hand, as seen in all the chaos of the summer, that’s not the only reason people are warning him about the job.
There’s a good argument that some in the Old Trafford hierarchy have warned against appointing him for this reason.
Yes, we speak in those terms since this result was so bad. And it looks like things could get worse.
The blunt truth is that he was far from innocent.
Take the player literally at the center of so many occasions. What does it say about Ten Hag’s tactical approach that he switched Eriksen so abruptly from a false nine to a number six against a team that, like Brentford, put you under pressure?
It was even less surprising than the goal score that Thomas Frank’s side kept getting in and around him.
It was Eriksen who duly lost the ball for the second goal to Mathias Jensen, the midfielder casually brushed past De Gea in a way that reflected how easy it was for Brentford.
It also showed something United had such fundamental difficulties with. That was passing from behind.
It was like a scene from 2011, reminiscent of Andre Villas Boas’ highline at Chelsea, as if this squad of players had never experienced what is standard practice today. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe that’s another problem and why somehow it can get worse before it gets better.
Ten Hag introduces the team to a form of play that was unfamiliar to them. One only had to look at the trepidation in De Gea’s body movements as he hesitated and panicked before playing that ball to Eriksen.
The Spain international would have already been affected by the nature of the opening goal, letting in Josh Dasilva’s shot in the admittedly strong sun, but he’s also just not a goalkeeper suited to playing it from the middle at the back.
It will be another fault line. The fallout caused further rifts in United throughout that game.
Just minutes later, De Gea came out for a corner and got nowhere, the raging Toney headed him back over the goal for Ben Mee to deflect.
The former Burnley centre-back fell over, still beating Lisandro Martinez to an aerial ball.
Much has been written about the Argentine defender’s size but the leap could be just as important.
United have placed a great deal of emphasis on signings from a league that is now well below the overall Premier League standard, let alone the expectations one of their richest clubs should have.
There is now such a gap between the Dutch competition and England that even Ajax players could use a year in midfield. Which brings us to the manager.
Ten Hag will now be more than clear that despite the league gap, he doesn’t have the structure he enjoyed at Ajax.
It meant United had no tactical structure in that game.
On that remarkable fourth goal, Brentford felt so comfortable that they had the confidence and sense of self-expression to simply cut through Ten Hag’s side, while Bryan Mbeumo passed the unfortunate Luke Shaw as he rolled the ball past De Gea as well.
The home crowd couldn’t believe it, but he wanted to live every moment.
It should not be forgotten in all the talk about United that this was Brentford’s day; one of their greatest days.
It was another ‘worst day’ to add to the list for United. If it has to get worse before it gets better, what then?
Well that would be Liverpool.
That way you wouldn’t be surprised at what comes out of it, barring a show of competence from United.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/manchester-united-brentford-result-score-premier-league-b2144591.html Brentford vs Manchester United: Premier League Score, Goals, Report