In the 3-1 home loss to Brighton, Man United supporters jeered Rasmus Hojlund’s substitution for Anthony Martial.
Erik ten Hag saw it as a plus when Rasmus Hojlund was substituted during Manchester United’s 3-1 loss to Brighton at home.
With United behind 2-0 in the 64th minute, thousands of fans protested the switch of full debutant Hojlund with Anthony Martial.
Martial, who has 17 goals in the last three years for United, was ineffective once more in his fourth scoreless game of the year.
Marcus Rashford’s goal-line clearance on the verge of halftime led to Hojlund’s goal being overturned, but the 20-year-old’s departure from the game was pre-planned as he signed for United after suffering a stress fracture in his back while practicing with former team Atalanta.
Ten Hag said the response to Hojlund’s withdrawal was “positive.” “You can see the supporters cheering for him right away at Old Trafford. He received a terrific response, and I thought he did a tremendous job. It’s excellent that they sent Rasmus this signal and message because it will give him confidence.
“But everyone is aware that he entered with a minor problem; we developed him over the previous three to four weeks. He isn’t prepared for a whole game, and we have a lot of games coming up quickly, so we need to improve his fitness.t”
Ten Hag responded when it was reported that the boos were intensified by the revelation of who replaced Hojlund: “I think it was because Rasmus Hojlund came off but I don’t want to address that, so I don’t know.
“However, I believe Anthony Martial had a really positive impact on our games every time he played last year. Even without Anthony Martial on the field, we nearly won every game.
So if that’s the case, I’m at a loss for words. Because Martial will undoubtedly help when he is healthy. He is not fully fit at the moment, but he is making progress, and I am confident that when he is, he will contribute like he did last season.
“He has to create his own luck, and the first step is to be available and to be available frequently; after that, you’ll notice that his form will be better.
“As I said, every time he played last year, he had a positive impact on our game. I hope he can stay in shape, and I’m sure he will help us win.”
For the first time in the Premier League era, United has dropped three of its opening five games, marking its worst domestic start since Louis van Gaal took over as manager in 2014–15.
However, Ten Hag acknowledged that he was concerned with United’s performance: “We have to be disappointed and we have to be very annoyed with ourselves because at United the demand is that you win games.”
“We have seen in all the games, especially the games today, Arsenal and Forest, that we can play very well and create a lot of chances, but there are also some improvements to be made, that is undoubtedly the case, and we have to step up.”
The starting lineup for Brighton cost £17 million, while the one for United cost £347 million, though Ten Hag minimized the difference in cost. “I believe that all of the teams are overspending. Brighton makes purchases, just like everyone else.
“It’s also true that when Man United comes, the price goes up.”