In his post-game comments, Man United manager Erik Ten Hag, praised the impact of Cristiano Ronaldo, who came off the bench after 53 minutes of Man United's 2-1 loss to Brighton at Old Trafford.
The substitution also pushed Christian Eriksen back into his favoured deeper position, at the expense of Fred. However, despite an upturn in performance in the second half for Man United, which included a goal and two excellent chances for Marcus Rashford, Ten Hag labelled the game as a "set back" and a "real disappointment."
I knew from the start it would not be easy," said Ten Hag on Sky Sports. "And it's a process, it takes time, but you don't have time, we have to win games. And we should have done it better.
"It was clear to see that in the second half we were better in the midfield, with Christian Eriksen down and Cristiano Ronaldo up. And then we create and I think Rashford had two really good chances, and it's a pity that we didn't score the two.
Man United Boss Erik Ten Hag
"I'm not satisfied, totally not" 😤
Erik ten Hag says today's defeat was a 'real disappointment' and it will take time to get Man Utd back on top... pic.twitter.com/Z3ygzSmWwE
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 7, 2022
Some speculated that Ronaldo was dropped to the bench over his behaviour during their pre-season game with Rayo Vallecano, but Ten Hag was clear that it was due to his lack of fitness.
"It takes time you cannot force it," he said about Ronaldo. "He is one week in training, a little bit more now, and he has to do more to get fit. This game will help him and the 35/40 minutes he had now, and he will be better next week."
Man United captain Harry Maguire also spoke after the game, and bemoaned his side's shocking start, which saw them concede two poor first half goals.
"We went into the game positive, we had a good pre-season and it was the worst possible start to be 2-0 down at half-time at Old Trafford. It's good enough. We got a goal back but we huffed and puffed a bit and it’s a bad start for us.
“We started pretty the game well and on the front foot and as a team we had control of the game. Then we conceded the first goal and that knocked us badly. We stopped playing from then. We need to look at not letting that first goal set us back as much as it did. But we have to be better on the ball, we gave them encouragement to come forward and attack us. It was a nightmare start to be 2-0 down at half-time."