Manchester United’s 3-1 Old Trafford loss against Brighton was met with fury as Erik ten Hag substituted Rasmus Højlund for Anthony Martial.
The decision was met with loud and piercing boos from the Old Trafford crowd, with many baffled as to why the Dutchman took off a goal threat when they needed three.
Martial proceeded to have zero input in the fixture, making just 12 touches in 32 minutes as Hannibal Mejbri became the only player to provide a goal threat after Højlund came off.
It was a fixture that once again highlighted so many of United’s problems, from being tactically disjointed to suffering from a horrific lack of depth, although it must be considered that 10 first-team squad members are currently unavailable.
Speaking after the fixture to explain his call to substitute Højlund for Martial, Ten Hag said it was because Højlund is not yet fit to play 90 minutes of football as he has only just come back from injury.
“It was overall positive,” he said on the boos.
“You see the fans in the first moment at Old Trafford, the reception was great, he performed very well, it was good they gave this signal, will give him belief. He came in with a small issue, he is not ready for a whole game.”
Højlund had his first Old Trafford goal disallowed due to the ball going out of play before he scored at the end of the first half, but it was a finish that can give United fans hope – if he stays fit, he can add a crucial goalscoring dynamic to this squad.
“He was unlucky with the disallowed goal, it would have been a great afternoon for him,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “It was not the case but he will keep going. He is a strong character as we are as a team and we will push back.”
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