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Gary Neville surprised Manchester United kept a narrow midfield which Brighton exploited

Gary Neville has expressed his concerns about the Manchester United pitch, insisting Brighton & Hove Albion exploited the space on Saturday.

The Red Devils suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Seagulls at Old Trafford, with the visitors outplaying Erik ten Hag’s men.

The former Man United star told Peter Drury on the Gary Neville podcast that the three goals Brighton scored came from the same side.

“We quite often say that football players win football matches,” he said.

“It is the most obvious thing to say, and that systems do not win matches. I am sorry, systems do have an impact on matches.

“There is this thing at Old Trafford – dugout side, there is no space. This is absolutely true. On the far side, you have acres of space away from the dugout.

“The space in the game is always for the opposition on the other side of the pitch. I don’t know why that is – it has always happened at Old Trafford.

“I was sat on the opposite side of the pitch. In the first half, [Christian] Eriksen was being asked to get out to Brighton’s right-back and right-hand side with [Sergio] Reguilon. That’s where the first goal came from. Eriksen had to get out there because he was playing in a diamond.

“In the second half, [Scott] McTominay is over on this side and McTominay can run by the way, he was legless at times.

“I was watching those lads very closely. This wasn’t a massive lack of effort or players chucking the towel in. They were trying their very best, but McTominay couldn’t get out to their left side in the second half and that’s where the two goals came from.

“I was surprised they kept a narrow midfield and didn’t have a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 because Manchester United’s pitch always feels massive in the wide areas – it always has done, particularly on that far side away from the dugout.”

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi simply out-thought Ten Hag in the tactical battle at Old Trafford, and the Man United boss must start doing better.

The first two Premier League defeats in 2023-24 came away from home, leaving many people thinking the Red Devils had turned their ground into a fortress and only needed to know how to win on the road.

However, the Seagulls were very comfortable at Old Trafford and could have scored more goals had Andre Onana not made some good saves.

Man United could not adapt to the problems their opponents threw at them and they did not make the visitors feel uncomfortable at any point in time.

Some fans are starting to doubt whether the Dutchman has what it takes to lead the club to the next level, and the results must improve quickly if he wants to keep his job.