After a disappointing defeat to Brighton in their first game of the season, Manchester United were looking to bounce back on their trip to Brentford, to prove it was nothing more than teething problems and that the problems that have plagued them are a thing of the past. But Brentford had other ideas.
Brentford came into their first home fixture of the season against Erik ten Hag’s United side after fighting their way back from 2-0 down at Leicester to draw 2-2. It was Josh Dasilva who saved the day at the King Power, and he was on hand to put heap embarrassment on ten Hag, United and goalkeeper David de Gea, after his shot from range slipped through the Spaniard’s grasp on 10 mins.
And eight minutes later, United’s attempts to play out from the back had them in a world of trouble when Mathias Jensen pressed former Brentford man Christian Eriksen to steal in and finish past De Gea. United were all over the place, shell shocked, and looked all out of ideas. In comparison, Brentford smelt blood and were eager to add to their 2-0 lead and really put them to the sword.
Believe it or not, by the half-hour mark, United’s goal was breached again, with a corner being met by Ivan Toney, who headed back across goal for summer signing Ben Mee to head home. United were being outfought, outworked and outthought, and the fourth goal coming was only a matter of time. Toney again was the architect, this time finding space on the left before playing the ball into the path of Bryan Mbuemo, whose touch and strength allowed him to open his body up to apply a deft finish.
Brentford were brilliant, and good value for the win, and could even have won by a bigger score line. United, on the other hand, were second to everything. And while they did threaten on occasions, they didn’t seem to have the belief they could put a dent in the score line. Ten Hag made three changes at halftime, hooking Luke Shaw, Fred and Lisandro Martinez, but their replacements failed to add anything in an attacking sense.
Questions will continue to be asked over the signing of Martinez, who ten Hag identified as someone the club should recruit. The centre-half, who stands at 5’9, continues to struggle with the demands of the Premier League, and being withdrawn at halftime at Brentford tells its own story.
United now sit bottom of the league, with no points on the table, and having conceded five goals in two games, scoring once. Next up comes an even more challenging test, with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool heading to Old Trafford on Monday, August 22nd. But the day, and the weekend, belong very much to Thomas Frank and his Brentford side, who had a game plan and executed it perfection with tons of hard work thrown in for good measure.