It may be a new season, but this afternoon was very much a case of the same old problems for Manchester United.
Optimism was high coming into the new campaign that the appointment of Erik ten Hag would bring about some immediate improvements within the team, but the performance against Brighton at Old Trafford was a timely reminder of just how much work still needed to be done.
The away side completely outperformed the hosts for the majority of the 90 minutes, taking a 2-0 lead into the interval thanks to a brace from Pascal Gross. While United would manage to get one back in the second half, they never looked likely to draw the game.
Paul Scholes hammers Manchester United midfield
While the team were too open at the back, the United midfield was particularly concerning. Both Scott McTominay and Fred were well off the pace throughout, failing to do much on the ball while also being completely overrun out of possession.
Brighton's opening goal was a prime example, with McTominay needlessly turning the ball over in the middle third, which ultimately led to it going into the net at the other end.
BRIGHTON LEAD!! 💥
Pascal Groß has gotten Erik ten Hag's era off to the worst possible start! 😮 pic.twitter.com/g6HSjS7LcJ
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 7, 2022
The Scotland international was also unlucky not to be sent off for a very dangerous tackle in the opening half. Fred would be substituted early in the second half, with his midfield partner somehow lasting until the 78th minute.
Speaking on Premier League Productions, Paul Scholes hinted that he has had enough of seeing that particular duo in the Manchester United midfield.
It was a shocking start for Man United and the first half was shambolic really, Scholes told Premier League productions.
The signs were there right from the first few minutes that this was going to be bad.
McTominay was always trying to run with the ball, ridiculous. The quality in the middle of the pitch was really poor.
I was happy he didn’t get sent off [for a high challenge] but I think he was slightly lucky. Again, he’s running with the ball, absolutely ridiculous.
It could easily have been a red card. The quality in the middle of the pitch was nowhere near good enough but we’ve seen that for the last few years with these two players.
With Fred and McTominay, he [Ten Hag] is going to have to go with just one of them but even one of them is probably too many.
Fred gives the ball away all the time and McTominay’s trying to run with the ball constantly and then gives it away. Pass it to your best players! It’s not that difficult. It’s criminal on a day like today.
Manchester United have been in the market for a midfielder this summer, although their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong has so far proven fruitless. A deal for the Barcelona player is looking increasingly unlikely as things stand.
Regardless of whether they can secure his signing or not, it seems clear that another central midfielder will have to be brought in before the end of the month.