Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag admitted surprise at Brighton’s style of play during their win at Old Trafford, suggesting the Seagulls took a more pragmatic approach than people are used to seeing from them.
Brighton, who thrashed Ralf Rangnick’s United at the Amex Stadium in May, had never won at Old Trafford before the weekend. But Pascal Gross scored twice in the first half to secure a 2-1 victory.
Ten Hag has conceded that he didn’t expect Brighton to play how they did, ditching a more possession-based tactics in favour of longer balls that negated United’s attempt to press.
“Brighton is a team who normally wants to play from the back, [but] they didn't," Ten Hag said.
“They played long ball, so it's not about pressing, it's about winning the second ball, and then in such occasions, we did not always do what we laid out before the game and we definitely have to learn from those lessons. I didn't expect that this team would play long routines and I think it was a big difference.”
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Ten Hag also lamented his lack of time to implement his ideas and familiarise the squad with his philosophy compared to Graham Potter, who has been in charge at Brighton since 2019.
“Our opponent have their routines, they are a long time together with a certain philosophy and a certain plan, cooperation between coach and team, you could see. And sometimes we are not. But still, it was unnecessary to lose this game,” Ten Hag said.
But while the United boss was taken by surprise by Brighton’s tactic, his opposite number wasn’t.
"It was not overly surprising from our perspective. They had a few options," Potter said.