The Debate: Reds have to step up at Brentford

Tuesday 09 August 2022 11:50

Manchester United travel to Brentford on Saturday for our first away test of the season, with Erik ten Hag’s side looking to bounce back from the Premier League opening-day defeat to Brighton on Sunday.

Looking ahead to our trip down to west London, former Reds Ben Thornley and Wes Brown joined Stewart Gardner, along with journalists Paul Hirst and Laurie Whitwell, to discuss what Ten Hag can expect from United’s clash with the Bees.

“[It’s] very difficult,” said Thornley. “Certainly with Mbeumo and especially Toney, they are a real handful. They are two very, very different players. Mbeumo is tricky, he’s really fast, and Toney is a proper goalscorer, but he’s a real handful as well when the ball’s coming up to him.

“After [Brighton], we have to [win] now, knowing that [Liverpool] are coming here the following Monday. But it will not be an easy game. It’ll be a tough game and [Thomas Frank will] have them really, really revved up for it.”

What can we expect at Brentford on Saturday? Video

What can we expect at Brentford on Saturday?

The Debate | Our panel digests the Brighton defeat and looks ahead to our first away game of the season, at Brentford…

Brown agreed with Thornley and believes that dealing with Toney’s physical presence will be a tough task for United’s defenders.

He said: “You have to adjust, you know. Sizes and speeds, there’s all different kinds, so you have to learn quickly and adjust. But, like Ben says, he [Toney] is a handful. I still think he’s got this drive in him, that he wants to do better in the Premier League. On his day, we’ve seen how good he can be. So, yeah, he’s definitely [a tough opponent].”

He added that Brentford will be very motivated to get a positive result against United, and explained that Ten Hag’s side will have to be savvy to come away with a win.

“As a team now, we’ve got to step up,” he said. “We’ve got to be tight; we’ve got to be clever. We are away from home; can we all get back in? If we’re all pressing, can we do it together? Are we going to stay high? But ultimately, Brentford will be really excited about this game. They’ve not played Man United many times in the past, so this is the game – not just for the players but for their fans as well.”

Whitwell shares the belief that the Reds – and Ten Hag – need to get a positive result against the Bees on Saturday.

“After a defeat, you want to bounce back with a win,” he said. “Particularly for Erik ten Hag, in his opening matches as Manchester United manager, you need to get buy-in, I suppose, for his methods. So that the players think: ‘Okay, he’s onto something here.’

“I’m sure they’ll stay true to his instructions throughout the season, but you kind of need that as a jolt really. We saw a little bit in pre-season; we got a 4-0 win and everyone’s thinking ‘okay’. [There's] buy-in straightaway. But when the real action starts you need it again.

“Graham Potter mentioned that in his press conference – [how] he moved it on from Chris Hughton. He changed the style of play at Brighton, and he needed results for the players to go: ‘Yeah, okay, we can see what you’re doing here.’ It gradually builds that confidence and understandings on the pitch.”

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United face Brentford at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday evening. Kick-off is scheduled for 17:30 BST, and you can tune in via MUTV – now available in our Official App – for live build-up from an hour before the action gets under way.

Stay tuned on our Official App for pre-match build-up and post-match reaction, as well as stats cards, exclusive interviews, and much more.