Man Utd fans turn on Erik ten Hag as Rasmus Hojlund decision booed by the whole of Old Trafford

The reaction at Old Trafford was deafening when Erik ten Hag substituted Rasmus Hojlund for Anthony Martial.

Manchester United has faced a challenging start to the season, and it didn’t get any easier after a stunning 3-1 defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

This fixture underscored many of United’s issues, from tactical disarray to a severe lack of depth. It’s worth noting that 10 first-team squad members are currently unavailable for Erik ten Hag, but that doesn’t entirely excuse the performance level displayed on Saturday.

Manchester United 1-3 Brighton

Former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck broke the deadlock for Brighton after 20 minutes, and Pascal Gross added to their lead eight minutes into the second half. After Ten Hag’s double substitution, which brought on Anthony Martial and Hannibal Mejbri in place of Rasmus Hojlund and Casemiro, things went from bad to worse as Joao Pedro notched a third for Brighton. Substitute Mejbri managed to score a late consolation goal for United.

Rasmus Hojlund’s performance

New signing Rasmus Hojlund made his first start for the club, and fans were eager to see him in action. However, he didn’t complete the full 90 minutes. Hojlund, aged 20, came close to marking his debut with a goal, but his first-half equalizer was disallowed by VAR. The £72 million summer signing had to wait for his debut due to a back injury he brought with him from Atalanta. United manager Erik ten Hag explained that Hojlund couldn’t play the full 90 minutes against Brighton.

United fans were then aggrieved once more when they saw Hojlund replaced by Anthony Martial in the second half, with deafening boos providing the soundtrack to his departure. Ten Hag tried to explain the decision in his post-match press conference, insisting that Hojlund wasn’t injured, but he was not yet able to register a full game for his new team.

The under pressure manager said: “I think it was positive. You see the fans in the first moment in Old Trafford, the reception for [Hojlund] was great. I think he performed very well. It’s good they give this signal, this message. It will give Rasmus belief. Everyone knows he came in with a small issue. We built him over the last three or four weeks, but he is not ready for a whole game, and we have many games to play at short notice, so we have to build the fitness. If he gets injured because he cannot play 90 minutes, then we are much farther away than where we want to be.”

Ten Hag was quick to follow up suggestions that the boos from the Old Trafford crows were not for Hojlund, but rather for Frenchman Martial, his replacement in the Brighton defeat.

That moment when Hojlund got subbed off for Martial. Old Trafford was not happy.
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“I think it was because Rasmus Højlund came off, but I don’t want to discuss that, so I don’t know,” said Ten Hag. “I think Anthony Martial, last year, every time he played he had a very positive effect on our games. We even almost lost no games with Anthony Martial on the pitch, so if that’s the fact, then I don’t understand because when he is fit he will definitely contribute.”

It has been a truly disastrous start to the season for Manchester United, with three defeats from their opening five league games leaving them languishing in 12th place in the table. It isn’t set to get any easier either, with The Red Devils opening their Champions League campaign next with a trip to Germany to play Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The group also contains FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray.

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