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Brighton 0-2 Man United: Five things noticed – what Wilcox and Brailsford unfortunately saw



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Manchester United finished their Premier League season with a 2-0 win over Brighton on Sunday afternoon, thanks to goals from Diogo Dalot and Rasmus Højlund.

Erik ten Hag decided to start Lisandro Martínez as Manchester United faced Brighton during the final day of the Premier League season.

The first half of the fixture was a dull and drab affair. Brighton were certainly on top for the majority of the opening 45 minutes, with United’s best chance coming in the shape of an off-target strike from Scott McTominay.

Read More: Player Ratings – Brighton vs Manchester United (Premier League)

Lisandro Martínez made a fantastic block off the line in the first half, and in the second, Casemiro did the same. 60 minutes saw the club take off both Bruno Fernandes and Martínez in order to preserve the players.

It took until the 72nd minute for any sort of fun to happen, but when it did, Diogo Dalot was there to strike past Jadon Steele and hand United a lead on the final day of the season. Rasmus Højlund then added a second with two minutes of normal time left to play to secure the win.

#1 – Finding a balance

“We will put out a line [-up] what is strong and the strongest we have. But, at the same time, we have to find the balance that we also try to bring players returning from injury back on the pitch.”

These were the words of Ten Hag on Thursday afternoon, a few days before the game, and it was very clear that his starting XI was selected with half an eye on the FA Cup final next weekend.

With Rasmus Højlund and Marcus Rashford rested while Martínez was given a start, Ten Hag was no doubt trying to maximise minutes and rest in order to prepare his team for the Manchester City tie.

#2 – Garnacho and Martínez shine

Alejandro Garnacho seemed United’s brightest spark during a game where many had called for him to be rested ahead of the final. It was Garnacho’s 37th start in a row for the club, and with the player set to start in the final, too, his efforts were commendable.

Martínez, during his first start back from injury, looked solid. His minutes were very much needed before the final, and he seemed to slip back into the XI without much trouble. He played around 60 minutes and is expected to start in the FA Cup final.

#3 – Casemiro back where he belongs

The final 70 minutes saw Casemiro, for the first time in over a month, step back into midfield – a position he belongs in. He has started the club’s last seven games at centre-back amid the club’s injury crisis.

“Everyone knows I’m not a centre-half. I’m a holding midfielder, that is what I’ve been all my life,” the Brazilian said earlier this week, and Varane’s introduction allowed him to return back to his natural position.

This is a huge boost for United as Casemiro is now back in a more comfortable position with two centre-backs, potentially Martínez and Varane, behind him once again.

#4 – What the upper management saw

Both Jason Wilcox and Sir Dave Brailsford were in attendance at the Amex Stadium, and what they saw did not inspire confidence for the final and beyond from some of the players on Sunday afternoon.

Twelve players in the squad against Brighton may well leave United in the summer, with those such as Sofyan Amrabat, Scott McTominay, and Christian Eriksen likely not to be at the club next season.

This performance will not have done many players any favours, but they have the chance to make amends on Saturday.

#5 – Next, the final

As mentioned before, this game was pretty much used as a warm-up before the final.

With Martínez getting minutes alongside Raphaël Varane and Rashford, as well as rest for the likes of Højlund. Fernandes’ substitution was a smart one, with the player battling with some minor injury problems, and it feels as if Ten Hag’s XI for the fixture is now clear.

The only contentious position is right-wing, but Amad was once again showing his bright spark, and should walk out with the rest of the players at Wembley Stadium.