Media review: Manchester United

How the websites and papers reported Sunday's win at Old Trafford.

By Nick Szczepanik • 08 August 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Yeeeeeessssssss! Graham Potter takes his applause at the end of the game from the brilliant travelling supporters.

The new season began as the last one ended – with Albion making history and being praised in the media.

With Manchester United arguably the best-supported club in world football, it was understandable that their new manager Erik ten Hag’s debut in the job led most reports.

But as well as detailing his woes, the writers in that cramped Old Trafford press box also gave due plaudits to the Seagulls’ first victory there.

Not a single reporter regarded the three points as anything but well deserved and there was widespread appreciation for the performance of Graham Potter’s side and the two well-crafted goals.

Ian Ladyman, for example, wrote in the Daily Mail that “United were out thought and out played. The only coach bringing real influence to this game was Potter. His team adhered to his plan in a way United never seemed likely to as regards theirs.

“Brighton scored two brilliantly executed goals through Pascal Gross in the 30th and 39th minutes and that was the very least they deserved. Their midfield player Moises Caicedo was magnificent, a mix of physicality and cleverness. Danny Welbeck up front, meanwhile, looked fitter and better than at any time since he left United eight years ago.

“Brighton had been in the ascendency for ten minutes or more by time Gross scored his first goal. Scott McTominay had an awful day and could have walked after an over the top challenge on Caicedo in the 25th minute. Instead the Scot was booked. From that point on Caceido seemed intent on leaving an altogether more legitimate mark on the game and when he robbed his aggressor of the ball in his own half Brighton were on to the United backline in numbers.

“Welbeck’s run off the back of Harry Maguire was intelligent and so was Leandro Trossard’s ball to find him. When the low cross arrived, Gross thundered in at the back post to slide it home. Simple but fabulous.

“Then, six minutes before half-time, Brighton rampaged forwards from almost their own corner flag to score again. Trossard’s back heel to escape a tight spot on the touchline seemed decorative at first but Caicedo’s surge past Eriksen turned it in to something else entirely and when he played the ball infield to Adam Lallana, his subsequent pass out to Solly March on the right left United exposed. March’s low shot across goal was saved adequately by David de Gea but the ball ran to Gross who stretched to score left-footed high into the net.”

“Over time some vague United improvement did come but it took a freakish goal to give them a foothold.  We have been here before many times over the years at Old Trafford and we know what often happens. But not so with this United team. Ultimately there was to be no kitchen sink. Not even a couple of taps. Brighton saw this out comfortably. The best team won.”

In the Daily Telegraph, Jason Burt wrote that “Brighton and their excellent manager Graham Potter deservedly took the points.

“’Ole’ was also sung around Old Trafford but it was no reference to United’s former manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Instead it was the Brighton fans delighting as their team played keep ball and United chased shadows in the August sunshine.

“Brighton lost arguably their two best players in the summer – with Yves Bissouma leaving for Tottenham Hotspur for a fee that could rise to £35million and Marc Cucurella joining Chelsea for up to £61million – but were superb and thoroughly, emphatically warranted their victory.”

Henry Winter of The Times agreed. “The best performers on the field were all in the visitors’ ranks, especially the pacey, tireless Danny Welbeck who ran himself into the ground giving Brighton an outlet,” he wrote. “Gross and Trossard also excelled. Brighton’s first win at Old Trafford was totally deserved. Their attitude, organisation and attacking threat was superior to United.

“Graham Potter has taken in his stride the sales of Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella for £88m and his team has not missed a stride. Potter’s work is remarkable, again showing his alchemist qualities, making Brighton far more than the sum of their parts, something that Ten Hag has to achieve at United.”

On the Daily Mirror website, Nathan Ridley wrote that “the Seagulls won 2-1 to mark their fifth season playing Premier League football in style and record their first ever victory at Old Trafford.


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PL Highlights: Man Utd 1 Albion 2

Pascal Gross' double did the damage, as Graham Potter's side tore the hapless Red Devils apart in the first half. An own goal from Alexis Mac Allister gave United hope late in the day, but their abject performance was worthy of nothing more than a defeat.

“While all the talk pre-match was about how Ten Hag was on the road to transforming the Red Devils into an exciting team who play on the front foot, Brighton showed them exactly how it's done.

“Moments after Ten Hag turned to Ronaldo just eight minutes into the second half, new £56.7m signing Martinez almost gave his team a bigger mountain to climb. The Red Devils defender clumsily charged into Welbeck, who went down in a heap as everyone looked towards referee Paul Tierney.

“But despite a hasty VAR check, a penalty wasn't given to the surprise of anybody with the luxury of a replay and Martinez was able to escape without his debut going from bad to worse.”

The Sun’s long-time Manchester man, Neil Custis noticed that “in a break in play for an injury, Ten Hag tried desperately to rally his troops as he called them to his technical area.

“They weren’t listening. Five minutes later on the half hour Brighton were in the lead. Trossard played a perfectly weighted ball into the run of Danny Welbeck who had stormed between United centre-backs Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez.


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Potter on historic Man Utd win!

“His ball back across goal went between David De Gea and the retreating McTominay finding Gross at the far post to slide it home.

“Worse was to follow for United but what a goal it was in the 39th minute from Brighton with the move starting by the corner flag in their own half.

“A brilliant backheel by Trossard relieved the pressure with Moises Caicedo picking the ball up and bringing it out. He fed it to Gross and on the ball moved to Adam Lallana and across the pitch to Solly March who let fly with a low shot.

“De Gea’s saved but the ball broke and Gross reacted quicker than Fred and fired in. The fans were furious. Brighton were playing like a team that won 4-0 against these opponents at the end of last season and United looked very similar to the one that played in the Amex that day.

“Brighton would hold on for a deserved win. For Ten Hag the enormity of the job he has on was laid bare before a packed, unhappy, despondent, Old Trafford.”

Friend of this column and highly rated writer of crime fiction Jamie Jackson wrote in The Guardian that “Brighton gave [ten Hag] an uncompromising welcome to the Premier League. Leandro Trossard, Danny Welbeck and Pascal Gross were their stars in an impressive visit from Graham Potter’s men. At any moment it seemed as if they would score so Ten Hag and his players will have to rouse themselves for next weekend’s visit to Brentford before hosting Liverpool in the next home fixture.

“A McTominay surge was the first error as he ran into a Brighton sandwich. From here the ball was threaded by Trossard to the effervescent Welbeck and when he tapped over a cross Gross, unmarked, rolled in. Cut to Ten Hag shaking his head and Cristiano Ronaldo, on the bench, lifting his arms: either in disdain or encouragement.

“Next, though, more despair for those in red. From along Brighton’s left Trossard fed Caicedo. He shrugged off a passive Eriksen and the ball was swept upfield in a sequence featuring Gross, Adam Lallana and Solly March. The latter shot at goal, David de Gea palmed out and Gross, following in, doubled his tally and the lead, Fred the latest United bystander.

“When the interval arrived ten Hag, surely, had curt words prepared. If so the Dutchman still had to watch McTominay get in another muddle and Martínez lose Welbeck, whose header should have made it 3-0.

“When Donny van de Beek replaced McTominay he passed a note, presumably from ten Hag, to Maguire. Whatever it said did not work as Brighton, at the final whistle, were complete value for the victory.”

The last word goes to Simon Stone of the BBC website. “Amid the inevitable soul-searching for United at this dreadful result, Potter's influence at Brighton should not be underestimated.

“He has lost Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella for a combined £88m from the side that beat United in May. Director of football Dan Ashworth has also gone. None of Brighton's summer signings started this match.

“But they moved the ball with a purpose absent from United, while Welbeck was a particular threat against his old club.

“Gross and Trossard were both superb and, even without Bissouma, Brighton controlled midfield to ensure United were not able to turn their industry into something more tangible.

“Little wonder the jubilant visiting fans chanted ‘Can we play you every week?’"