Why Erik Ten Hag didn't start Cristiano Ronaldo In Manchester United's 1-2 loss to Brighton
- Brighton defeated Man Utd 2-1 at Old Trafford
- Ronaldo came off the bench in the second half
- It was Erik ten Hag’s first official game as Man Utd’s boss
Manchester United's new era under Erik ten Hag began with a 1-2 loss to Brighton at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who supposedly tried all summer to leave Manchester United, did not start their season-opener against Brighton.
Ten Hag has explained his decision to bench Ronaldo in the first half at Old Trafford, saying the Portuguese forward had a short pre-season and was not in the "right fitness levels".
Ronaldo missed Manchester United's pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, citing family reasons. He played in the Red Devils' 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano ahead of his side's first game of the new campaign.
"Ronaldo is working really hard to get in the right fitness levels. It will take time. He started pre-season last week. It depends on how quick he is progressing. A short pre-season, he only started training last week.
He only played 45 minutes and he's not on the fitness levels of the rest of the team. In the Premier League, the games I saw this weekend were really tough with high intensity," Ten Hag told MUTV.
When Ten Hag was asked how far Ronaldo is away from starting, the Dutch boss replied," We have to see, I cannot say because it depends on how quick he's progressing. We will do everything to get the team to the fitness levels as soon as possible. I cannot tell [if Ronaldo will feature today], I have to see the game."
Lisandro Martinez and I were not on the same wavelength, admits Harry Maguire
While Ronaldo was on the bench, Ten Hag opted to hand Manchester United debuts to new signings Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.
Martinez, who moved from Ajax to Old Trafford this summer, partnered with Harry Maguire as the team's two central defenders against Brighton. Manchester United skipper Maguire, later on, admitted that he failed to instantly click with his new center-back partner, Martinez.
"It's something we need to address or it'll keep happening. The first goal felt like a big blow to all 11 of our players. It's great to have Lisandro Martinez at the club. We have competition for places at centre-back. We've not played much together and in that first period we weren't on the same wavelength. Centre-back partnerships are built over time and we will get a lot better and keep clean sheets.
"Everyone knew the task. We had a bad season last season. We've got a new manager trying to put his philosophy on the team but when we don't get it right we look far too open," Maguire told Sky Sports after his side's 1-2 loss on Sunday.
The Seagulls bagged a quick 2-0 lead inside 40 minutes, courtesy of Pascal Gross' brace. The hosts did not improve in the second half, pulled one back 22 minutes after the break, thanks to an own goal from Alexis Mac Allister, but failed to register an equaliser.
Manchester United, who failed to finish in the top four of the league last term, would want to bounce back soon this season. Ten Hag's side are scheduled to next take on Brentford on Saturday (Aug. 13) in the Premier League.