BIRMINGHAM, England — Manchester United were beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa in a lively Premier League match 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 surged ahead with Leon Bailey and Lucas Digne in the first 11 minutes. Jacob Ramsey’s own goal reduced the deficit for Erik ten Hag’s side, but he redeemed himself with a fine finish in the 49th minute to give Emery a win in his first game in charge since his appointment last month.
ESPN’s Rob Dawson has a review and analysis from Villa Park.
JUMP TO: Player reviews | Best/worst providers | Notable signs and moments Postmatch comments Key statistics | Future relationships
1. Man United shows Ten Hag still has a lot of work to do
Just when you think Manchester United might build something under the Ten Hag, 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 it was thoroughly deserved. Villa, managed by new coach Unai Emery for the first time, won 3-1, but it could have been more.
United were 2-0 down inside 11 minutes and only came back at half-time thanks to a regular goal when Luke Shaw’s shot from Emiliano Martinez was brought down by Ramsey, and all nerves were relieved by Villa’s third goal early in the second. . half
It’s still early in Ten Hag’s reign and consistency can’t happen overnight, but it’s still remarkable how a team can look so bad against Brentford but then look so good against Liverpool, beat Arsenal but at Manchester City collapse and then dominate Tottenham Hotspur but also collapse at Villa.
There are plenty of signs that the Ten Hag has United headed in the right direction, but he will be keen to cut down on semi-regular waves. United have a Carabao Cup game against Villa and a Premier League trip to Fulham to come before the World Cup, and the break may come at the right time.
2. Van de Beek uses his other life
With Bruno Fernandes suspended, Donny van de Beek made his first Premier League start in 701 days, but it could be his last for a while. After an uneventful 45 minutes, he reappeared late for the second half, and it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the Dutchman wasn’t completely out.
He was eventually replaced after 65 minutes with United already 3-1 down, and it was a wonder he lasted that long. He managed just 18 touches in 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 when Van de Beek left.
The Ten Hag gave Van de Beek a chance to make an impact against Real Sociedad and Villa in four days, but he did nothing to suggest he should be in the squad when United play Villa again in the Carabao Cup on Thursday. Not selected in Holland’s provisional World Cup squad, the midfielder faces a long break, but it may be a while before he gets another opportunity in a United shirt, even if the season restarts.
3. Emery makes an immediate impact
Emery couldn’t have asked for much more from his first game in charge. Villa were in the bottom three when the game started, but for the first 30 minutes they played like a team challenging for a place in the top six.
With Bailey and Ollie Watkins playing as split attackers, United never quite got to grips with Emery’s system and were overshadowed for much of the first half. The second half started with United on the front foot, but Villa were never really bothered when Ramsey scored a superb goal following a clinical attack to make it 3-1. The home fans felt so relieved that with more than 10 minutes to play, they chanted, “Unai, Unai, give us a wave.”
Emery’s record – particularly at Sevilla and Villarreal – suggests that he can get players to buy into his methods and, if nothing else, Villa played as a team with a lot of confidence in the plan. Villa had won just five of their previous 24 league matches while United had lost just one of their last 10, but there was only one team who looked like they were playing with confidence and composure.
Aston Villa: Martinez 7, Cash 7, Digne 8, Konsa 7, Mings 7, Luiz 8, Dendoncker 7, Buendia 7, Bailey 8, Ramsey 9, Watkins 7.
Subs: McGinn 7, Ciwan 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.
Subs: Martial 5, Malacia 5, Elanga 5.
The best and worst providers
BEST: Jacob Ramsey
He found plenty of space in Emery’s system and made the most of it with a goal and an assist.
THE WICKED: Victor Lindelof
He was dragged out of position for Villa’s first goal and then allowed Watkins to run into the penalty area in the build-up to the third.
Highlights and milestones
There was no love lost between Ronaldo and Tyrone Mings when the two tangled in the second half and had to be carried off by teammates.
After the match: What the players and managers said
Emery on his welcome at Villa Park: “The fans have supported us and the players have been very good with their plan. The first step is to have confidence, start with energy and the fans have supported us with their response. Our players The talent is there. The way we played in the 90 minutes, we can be optimistic but only the first step and we have to work hard to improve.”
Ten Hag on his players heading Ronaldo’s crosses: “I think it was stupid. Because we gave the cross too far and too hard and we didn’t help him. We have to bring it at the right moment crosses. We bring the crosses very quickly. It was the right moment for Christian Eriksen to pocket the ball to Cristiano at the far post in the first half, it was the right moment.”
Ten Hag on his players who do not follow his tactics: “I have been in football for a long time, they are people; people are not robots. Sometimes it is like that and it is psychological but it is not acceptable. “Be prepared and don’t start games easily. When you start a game like that, you fail.”
Key stats (via ESPN Stats & Info)
Ramsey is the fourth player in Premier League history to score, assist and score in a single Premier League match, after Gareth Bale (November 2012), Wayne Rooney (October 2012) and Kevin Davies (December 2008).
Aston Villa: Fresh off 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. After that, Villa are on the road again at Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday, before the Premier League ends for the World Cup.
Manchester United: The Ten Hag have a chance for immediate revenge against Emery’s Villa at Old Trafford, and could use the game to make some changes to the squad before next Sunday’s visit of Fulham brings the curtain down on 2022 for the Red Devils.