Manchester United manager Erik den Haag said his players’ lack of confidence played a role in their 2-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion in their Premier League campaign opener on Sunday.
Pascal Gross scored two of Brighton’s first-half goals before Alexis McAllister’s own goal gave United a glimmer of hope in the 68th minute, but Brighton secured their first win at Old Trafford.
“I think the start was good, then they scored the first goal, the level went down, the players lost confidence in themselves, they made a mistake and we punished the opponent,” Den Haag told reporters.
Confidence is low, this can happen, always believe in yourself and unite with the team,” he added.
“We could have compensated in the second half, we had to keep the confidence and it’s good to see that, the players overcame two shocks and gained confidence because they are really good players.”
The Dutch coach defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to sit on the bench from the start, saying the Portugal star was not ready to play the entire tournament after missing pre-season in Thailand and Australia.
Christian Eriksen played as a “fantasy number nine” striker, Ronaldo came on in the 53rd minute.
Den Haag explained, “If there’s a striker, I push him. Ronaldo has been training for about ten days and it’s too short to play 90 minutes, so I didn’t start playing him. We thought about playing. Marcus Rashford was a spearhead, but he’s a striker on the left. Played a good period and had a couple of chances, but a traditional spearhead was not available today.
United play their next league game against Brentford on August 13.
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