Birmingham, England — Manchester United suffered a 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa in a lively Premier League clash at Villa Park as Unai Emery’s side gave their new manager the best possible welcome.
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Cristiano Ronaldo captained United but the Portuguese forward could only watch as Villa took the lead through Leon Bailly and Lucas Digne in the opening 11 minutes. Jacob Ramsey’s own goal reduced the deficit for Erik ten Haag’s side, but he made up for it with a fine finish in the 49th minute to earn Emery victory in his first game since being appointed manager last month.
ESPN’s Rob Dawson has his reaction and analysis from Villa Park.
Jump to: Player Rankings | Best/worst actors | Highlights and notable points Post match quotes | Key statistics future plans
1. Manchester United show Ten Hoag that there is still a lot to do
Just when you think Manchester United might make something under Ten Hoag, they put in a terrible performance. Aston Villa won a league game against United at Villa Park for the first time since August 1995 and deservedly so. Villa, under new manager Unai Emery for the first time, won 3-1, but it could have been more.
United were 2-0 down on 11 minutes and only came back in the second half thanks to a fluke goal. Half.
It’s still early in Ten Hoag’s reign and consistency can’t happen overnight, but it’s still remarkable how a team can look so bad against Brentford but look so good against Liverpool, beat Arsenal but Collapsing at Manchester City and then dominating Tottenham Hotspur but also falling at Villa.
There are plenty of signs that Ten Hoag is setting United on the right track, but he will be eager to iron out what is becoming a regular semi-final. United have a Carabao Cup game against Villa and a Premier League trip to Fulham before the World Cup and perhaps the break will come at the right time.
2. Van de Beek uses another of his lives
With Bruno Fernandes suspended, Donnie van de Beek earned his first Premier League start in 701 days, but it could be his last for some time. After an anonymous 45 minutes, he made a late second-half appearance and it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the Dutchman didn’t return to the pitch at all.
He was eventually substituted after 65 minutes with United losing 3-1 and it was a miracle he lasted that long. He had just 18 touches in just over an hour on the field. In comparison, his central midfield partners, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen, had each touched the ball more than 50 times by the time Van de Beek came off the pitch.
Van de Beek was given a chance by van de Beek to make an impact by starting games against Real Sociedad and Villa in four days’ time, but he has not been in the squad until United play Villa again in the Carabao Cup on Thursday. The midfielder, who was not named in Holland’s provisional World Cup squad, is on the verge of a long break but it may be some time before he gets another chance in a United shirt, even when the season resumes.
3. Something has an immediate effect
Emery could not have asked for more from his first game as a head coach. When the game started, Villa were third in the table, but in the first 30 minutes they looked like a team that was competing for a place in the top six.
With Bailey and Ollie Watkins playing as split forwards, United never really tackled Emery’s system and were left chasing shadows for most of the first half. The second half started with United on the front foot, but Villa were never really worried when Ramsey scored a superb goal after a clinical counter-attack to make it 3-1. The home fans were feeling so comfortable that with over 10 minutes left in the game, they chanted: “Unay, Unay, give us a wave.”
Emery’s track record – particularly at Sevilla and Villarreal – shows he can get players to buy into his methods and, if nothing else, Villa played like a team with a lot of belief in the plan. Villa had won just five of their previous 24 league games, while United had lost just one of their last 10, but they were the only side that looked to be playing with confidence and composure.
Aston Villa: Martinez 7, Cash 7, Deegan 8, Konsa 7, Mings 7, Luiz 8, Dendonker 7, Buendia 7, Bailey 8, Ramsey 9, Watkins 7.
Subcategories: McGinn 7, Young 6, Ings 6, Kamara 6, Sanson 6.
Manchester United: De Gea 6, Dalot 6, Shaw 5, Lindelof 4, Martinez 6, Casemiro 5, Eriksen 6, Van de Beek 4, Rashford 4, Garnacho 6, Ronaldo 5.
Subcategories: Martial 5, Malaysia 5, Elanga 5.
The best and worst actors
Best: Jacob Ramsey
He found a lot of space in Emery’s system and made the most of it with a goal and an assist.
Worst: Viktor Lindelof
He was pulled out of position for Villa’s first goal and then allowed Watkins to wander into the box for the third.
Highlights and notable moments
There was no love lost between Ronaldo and Tyrone Mings as the pair tangled in the second half and had to be separated by teammates.
After the game: talks of players and managers
Emery on his welcome at Villa Park: “The fans have been amazing and the players have been great with the programme. The first step is to take the confidence, start with energy and the fans have supported us with their response. We have players with “We have good skills. The way we played in the 90 minutes, we can be optimistic, but it’s the first step and we have a lot to do to keep improving.”
Ten Hoag on his players resorting to crosses towards Ronaldo: “I think it was stupid that we did that. Because we sent too many quick crosses from a distance and forced too many and we didn’t help him. We “We have to get crosses in. Crosses at the right moment. We get crosses in very quickly. The right moment Christian Eriksen was in the pocket in the first half to get the ball to Cristiano at the far post, it was the right moment.”
Ten Hoag on his players not following his tactics: “I’ve been in football for a long time, they are people; humans are not robots. Sometimes it’s like that and it’s psychological but it’s not acceptable. I’m wrong, we We must be ready for every game and not give up games so easily.
Key Stats (via ESPN Stats & Info)
Ramsey is the fourth player in Premier League history with a goal, assist and own goal in a Premier League game after Gareth Bale (November 2012), Wayne Rooney (October 2012) and Kevin Davies (December 2008).
Until next time
Aston Villa: Fresh from a big win against Manchester United, Unai Emery’s first away trip as Aston Villa manager is against … Manchester United in the Carabao Cup on Thursday. Villa are then at Brighton & Hove Albion again next Sunday, before the Premier League break for the World Cup.
Manchester United: Ten Hoag has the chance to exact immediate revenge against Emery Villa at Old Trafford and may use the game to make changes to the squad before next Sunday’s visit to Fulham brings the curtain down on 2022 for the Red Devils.