Erik ten Hag blamed “individual errors” and admitted Brentford were far hungrier as his Manchester United side crashed to a second successive defeat at the start of the Premier League season.
Brentford bagged four first-half goals in a disastrous opening 35 minutes for United, a mistake by David de Gea for Josh Dasilva’s opener setting the tone and Ten Hag said: “Brentford were hungrier. We conceded goals from individual mistakes. You can’t have a tactical plan but put it in the trash.”
Two competitive games into his new job, the Dutchman was forced to apologize to the club’s traveling fans. “It’s hard for me,” he said. “It’s always a surprise when you start a game like this. After 35 minutes we conceded four goals. This is not possible. The team must take responsibility, I really feel sorry for the fans who did everything to support us, we let them down.
As Brentford repeatedly picked up on United’s tactics of playing the ball out of defence, Dasilva’s and Mattias Jensen’s goals both came after errors in possession. Ten Hag nevertheless defended his prescribed system. “I’m convinced he can do it,” he said of De Gea. “I’ve seen it in training. “The [all] can. We saw it in the pre-season.”
He was still highly critical of the team’s performance. “They are good players, and have to take responsibility on the pitch, as a team and as individuals, and that’s what we didn’t do. I told them to play with faith and take responsibility for their performance, and that’s what they didn’t do.
“It is only when we stick together and work hard that we will overcome it. You have to believe in yourself and the team on the pitch.
“Don’t get me wrong, the manager is also responsible, he has the main responsibility, and I take that. And I will work on that. I have to give them faith, but they have to give it themselves.”
After a disappointing debut against Brighton last week, summer signing Lisandro Martínez came in for further criticism and was substituted at half-time. “At 4-0 I could have changed eight others as well,” said the manager, while denying that the Argentine’s height is a problem against Premier League attackers. – I don’t think it was the problem that we conceded four goals.
De Gea, meanwhile, took full responsibility for his mistake. “I think I cost my team three points,” said the goalkeeper. – It was a poor performance from me. After the error and the second one, it was very tough for the team. It was a horrible day. Of course we should have reacted better, but I should have saved the first shot and probably the result would have been different.
The Spaniard said United’s players had to offer far more to give Ten Hag the chance to succeed at Old Trafford. “It’s easy to play pre-season, you play for nothing, but when you play games that matter, you need bravery, be more consistent and be proper players. Step up and stick together as a team. We have a lot to learn from a new leader.”
Brentford manager Thomas Frank, while saying beating Manchester United “should never be routine”, said: “It’s amazing how this group of players keep giving me and the fans lifelong memories. It’s madness. It is a fully deserved victory against Manchester United.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney said: “We know [United have] have great talent, but when you work hard and beat them, the result shows what we are capable of.”