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In his first match as the manager of Manchester United, Erik ten Hag and his football team suffered an embarrassing 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion. Making matters worse, the new manager suffered this loss while keeping his unhappy star, Cristiano Ronaldo, on the bench in the first half.

Erik Ten Hag vs. Cristiano Ronaldo 

Since Erik ten Hag left Ajax in the Netherlands to take over the world’s most famous football club, things with the manager and Cristiano Ronaldo haven’t gone well.

Early in the summer, after the club unveiled the Dutchman, Cristiano Ronaldo requested a transfer away from United. There haven’t been any serious takers yet, though, so Ronaldo is back with the team to start the season.

The relationship between the star and the manager seemingly got worse when Ronaldo first took the field under Ten Hag.

After playing the first half of a friendly against Rayo Vallecano, Ten Hag subbed Ronaldo out. The problem was the global icon promptly left the building after his cameo, despite explicit instructions from the manager to all the players to stay and watch the entire match.

Ten Hag publically called out Ronaldo and teammate Diogo Dalot (who also left) after the incident.

With this drama as the backdrop, Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t in Ten Hag’s starting 11 for Matchday 1 of the Premier League season.  

New Man United manager Erik ten Hag lost his managerial debut

Without Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting lineup, Manchester United took on Brighton in the teams’ first game of the 2022-23 EPL season.

Brighton is a solid team with a quality manager in Graham Potter. The Seagulls are confident coming into the year after an impressive ninth-place finish last season. Still, the team doesn’t have anywhere near the talent of Man United.

Despite the talent discrepancy, Brighton was the far-better team in the first half.

The Manchester United midfield made sloppy turnovers, and the defense of Lisandro Martínez, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, and Diogo Dalot looked shaky. The result was a pair of goals from Brighton winger Pascal Groß nine minutes apart at the half-hour mark.

Ten Hag responded by bringing on Ronaldo for Fred in the 53rd minute, and the team immediately looked better. Ronaldo set up some dangerous chances, and United ultimately made the game closer after an Alexis Mac Allister own goal in the 68th minute.

Overall, this was not how Manchester United or its fans wanted to start the Erik ten Hag era.

The good news for Manchester United’s new manager 

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag (top right) and Cristiano Ronaldo (center) before the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag (top right) and Cristiano Ronaldo (center) | Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo Reportedly Turning Down $276 Million to Leave Manchester United

Despite the loss, there is some historical good news for Erik ten Hag. You just have to go back to November 8, 1986, to find it.

On that day, Manchester United lost 2-0 to Oxford United.

What makes that match significant is that it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s first game as United’s manager.

After the inauspicious debut, Fergie went on to win over 895 games with the Red Devils and became one of the greatest football managers of all time.

It’s impossible to say whether Ten Hag will follow in Ferguson’s footsteps or have a career at the helm of United closer to David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

If he does hope to have success with the Red Devils, Ten Hag’s first priority has to be resolving the Cristiano Ronaldo situation, one way or the other.

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