After losing their first two games, the Red Devils were destroyed 4-0 at Brentford and are currently last in the Premier League.
Josh Dasilva, Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee, and Bryan Mbeumo all found the back of the net within the first 35 minutes, accounting for all four goals that were scored in the first half.
After the break, United made a slight improvement and had a chance to cut the deficit through ex-Bee Christian Eriksen, but he was unable to beat David Raya. For the Red Devils, that was the best that could be said given their lack of attacking conviction and strategy.
However, they were dreadfully poor in the back, especially in the first half. Some people were surprised to learn that Ten Hag's center back pairing for their first two games was Lisandro Martinez and Harry Maguire; they had assumed Raphael Varane would be called back for the trip to Brentford.
Given the size of the Bees' starting lineup and the removal of 6'4" Scott McTominay, it should be clear that United seriously lacked height throughout the field. Brentford appeared to be in position to score from each set piece, and they finally did so from one when a tumbling Mee outjumped 5'9" Martinez to nod the ball in.
But it wasn’t just the height that caused problems for the Red Devils; Martinez and Maguire were all over the place as a back-two. They were too far apart, lacked understanding of where each other was, and it helped Toney run both of them ragged all evening.
The fourth goal, in particular, summed them up, as both pushed up inside the Brentford half, leaving so much space in behind for Toney and Mbeumo to punish, and they did just that. Although the opener was a glaring error from David de Gea, Maguire could have come out and closed Dasilva down quicker rather than allowing him to get a shot off. That led to the Spanish goalkeeper spilling the ball into his own net.
Even when in possession, it wasn’t much better. Martinez is renowned for his composure on the ball, while Maguire is typically very good with the ball at his feet. They didn’t show it against Brentford and looked scared whenever Brentford pressed them high. Manchester City are the best at building out from the back. United tried, but Maguire and Martinez weren’t capable of doing that.