Ten Hag blames United defeat on ‘lack of belief’


New season, same problems for ’embarrassing’ Manchester United (0:53)

Janusz Michallik feels Manchester United have lost their fear factor after they slumped to a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton. (0:53)

12:30 PM ET

  • Rob DawsonCorrespondent

Erik ten Hag said a lack of self belief is to blame for Manchester United’s opening day defeat to Brighton and added that his players are struggling to shake off the hangover from last season.

Ten Hag’s first competitive game as United boss ended in a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford as the Dutchman’s reign got off to the worst possible start.

Pascal Gross scored twice to put Brighton 2-0 up at half-time, and Ten Hag said the confidence of his team had disintegrated after a positive start.

– Dawson: Man Utd show familiar flaws on Ten Hag’s debut

“I think it was a good start and then after we dropped down a level in belief and we made mistakes and the opponent punished us,” Ten Hag said in a news conference after the game.

“I can understand that [a lack of belief] after last year but it’s not necessary. They are good players; self belief is from yourself.

“I know it could happen, but I think we should have done better, that’s clear, but also it will not come overnight. Today we had a worse period during the first half and we have to learn from that. That’s also clear.”

Ten Hag started the game with new signing Christian Eriksen employed as a false No. 9 with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench.

Ronaldo looked set to start after an injury ruled out Anthony Martial, but afterward Ten Hag defended his decision to bench the 37-year-old.

“If there was an available striker, I would have played him,” Ten Hag said. “Cristiano Ronaldo is now maybe for 10 days in team training and too short for 90 minutes, so that is the reason we didn’t start him. We have two strikers [Martial and Ronaldo], maybe a third one, [Marcus] Rashford.

“We considered him as a striker but he had a really good season on the left side and he had two really good chances, but the typical nine wasn’t available today.”