Brentford vs. Manchester United: Erik ten Hag Sets Sights On First Three-Point Haul
If Erik ten Hag was under the illusion that his job at Man United was going to be anything like plain-sailing, then forty minutes into his first game in charge, at home to Brighton no less, he would have had something of a predictable wake-up call.
There was something very ominous about the way United folded against the Seagulls, and fans present at Old Trafford will certainly hope that their new manager has the tools and skills to rectify the many problems the club faces.
Week two of the Premier League season sees Man United travel to West London to face Brentford, and it’s a fixture that may well prove a real headache for the former Ajax manager, who will surely be looking to make a few changes.
Harry Maguire comes in for a great deal of criticism when he’s wearing a United shirt, oddly, the Man United captain plays like a different person entirely when he’s in an England jersey, and the pairing with pint-sized centre-back Lisandro Martinez may take a while to gel.
However, the biggest issue Erik ten Hag has is that his central midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred is simply not of a standard that befits a club of Man United’s stature or, indeed, any club with top four aspirations.
Efforts are ongoing to fix this problem area, but the prolonged move to Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, who played under Ten Hag at Ajax, seems to have faltered, and as such, they’ll need to focus their efforts elsewhere.
One would imagine that up front, Ten Hag would start with Cristiano Ronaldo, having left the Portuguese international legend on the bench for the first 53 minutes of their Premier League opener, and other changes are likely, such was the poor display from United in their 2-1 defeat.
There is still time for Man United to bring in more impressive summer additions, but clearly, if the club sees out August in the same manner as their Brighton debacle, then they may find it harder to convince world-class talents to come.
Hard to Beat
The job Thomas Frank has done at Brentford should not be underplayed. Having taken the club to the top-tier for the first time since 1947, the Danish manager then led his team to an incredible debut season in the Premier League where their status was never in question, contrary to what pundits had predicted.
Frank has instilled a real desire at the club, and the way they fought back from two goals down away at Leicester City in their first game was further evidence of the strength of character at the club.
One wonders what sort of reception Christian Eriksen will receive at the Brentford Community Stadium. The former Tottenham and Inter Milan man spent a successful loan spell at the club last season but turned down the opportunity to make the deal a permanent one, instead making the understandable decision to join Man United.
In Ivan Toney, Brentford have the kind of lung-busting, rough, and tumble forward who could make things very hard for Maguire and Martinez, and it may prove to be a very long 90 minutes indeed.
If Ten Hag was feeling a little hollow after the defeat to Brighton, can you imagine how he’ll take a potential second straight loss?
Brentford to Win - 11/4
On home turf, Brentford can be deadly, and frankly, the arrival of Man United won’t hold any fears for the club. If they can start strongly and shake the visitors, it’s entirely possible that Frank’s side can overrun a weak midfield and a back-line that can sometimes be an accident waiting to happen.
As far as Premier League bets are concerned, this is one well worth considering, even for non-Bees fans.
Cristiano Ronaldo to Score First - 9/2
Surely there is no way Ten Hag can afford not to start Cristiano Ronaldo. We are talking about a player who netted 18 Premier League goals last season and arguably the only effective striking option the Dutchman has.
If he’s in the mood and gets even a decent level of service, an early goal from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner could set Man United on route to a morale-boosting win.