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'I can’t think of a moment where it's felt as bad' - Gary Neville gives verdict on Man United 'annihilation'


Erik ten Hag addresses his Man United players. Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Erik ten Hag addresses his Man United players. Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Erik ten Hag addresses his Man United players. Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville led the criticism as his old team suffered a first-half “annihilation” against Brentford.

Erik ten Hag’s side trailed 4-0 at the break following goals from Josh Dasilva, Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo, and Neville, working as co-commentator for Sky Sports, was all but lost for words.

Speaking after the fourth goal, he said: “What a first half of football we’re seeing here, the annihilation of Manchester United.”

When United boss Ten Hag appeared on screen, Neville added: “He’s got nothing to say, he’s got nowhere to go.

“What do you do at half-time if you’re Erik ten Hag? What can you possibly say to those 11 players who have been out there in the first half? What can you say?

“I think you’ve just got to send them out again, that would be it. I’m not quite sure what else he can do.”

Speaking after the restart, Neville added: “I’ve been watching United for 42 years and I can’t think of a moment where I’ve ever felt that it’s been as bad as it was in that first half.

“The impact of that first half will be devastating for these players in terms of their confidence, unless they can do something miraculous in this second half.

“But you just think of the impact it will have on the season, you think of the impact it will have on the players who they are trying to sign who will think, ‘Do I want to come? Would I even think of coming at this moment in time to this football club?’

“The impact isn’t just on these players, on the fans that are in the stadium, it goes beyond that.”

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Asked about the club’s ongoing summer recruitment drive, Neville said: “Manchester United have known for eight to 10 months they needed to rebuild the squad for the summer. Ralf Rangnick said it was open-heart surgery, he described it as.

“To not get the players in early, the quality of the players, the number of players that Erik ten Hag needed to be able to start the season, is baffling and difficult to forgive.”

The game finished 4-0 in Brentford's favour, and Neville had been critical of Ten Hag’s selection before the game.

He said: “If you’d said to be before the game – I’m not a gambling man but – Brentford might score from a free-kick, I would have said, ‘yeah’.

“Ten Hag has picked the smallest team he could hoping they would outplay Brentford. You have to deal with the physical side of the Premier League. It’s like a men’s team against under-nines.”

Fellow Sky pundit Jamie Carragher tweeted a mocked-up picture of Neville in clown make-up with hashtag #NewProfilePic, with Neville duly obliging.

Ex-England midfielder Jamie Redknapp, on studio duty for Sky, labelled David De Gea’s error for Dasilva’s opener as “a Massimo Taibi moment”, referencing the former keeper whose United career lasted just four games after he let a shot from Southampton’s Matt Le Tissier through his legs.

Redknapp added: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 45 minutes in the Premier League quite like this. A team like Manchester United, their performance.

“They’ve not got after them, they’ve not won any seconds balls and Brentford have been magnificent. They’ve just been too strong for Manchester United.”

Former England striker turned broadcaster Gary Lineker noted on Twitter “This could finish with Eric Ten down” – before correcting the spelling of Ten Hag’s first name to Erik – and also questioned whether United’s new yellow and green third kit would be prematurely retired.

“This is extraordinary,” he wrote. “@ManUtd 4 down in 35 minutes. Not sure this kit will see the light of day ever again.”

Local newspaper the Manchester Evening News included half-time player ratings in its live blog of the game, with all 11 players given 0/10.

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