BOSS Erik ten Hag astonishingly claimed booing by disgruntled Manchester United fans was a “positive”.
Crisis-hit United have lost three of their opening five Prem games for the first time after being embarrassed by Brighton.
Anthony Martial reacts to defeat after getting a tough reception when he came onCredit: AP
New Man Utd striker Rasmus Hojlund will be boosted by the response from fans when he went off, manager Erik ten Hag claimedCredit: Getty
Deafening jeers rang out around Old Trafford as the Dutchman replaced Rasmus Hojlund with flop Anthony Martial after 64 minutes.
Bafflingly, Ten Hag said: “It was positive. You see the fans in the first moment in Old Trafford, the reception for Hojlund was great.
“He performed very well. It’s good they give this signal, this message,
it will give Rasmus belief.”
Danish striker Hojlund arrived in a £72million deal from Atalanta last month with a stress fracture of the back.
And Ten Hag blamed the injury for the 20-year-old’s early removal after one of United’s few sparks had a goal disallowed.
Ten Hag added: “Everyone knows he came in with a small issue.
“We built him up over the last three or four weeks, he is not ready for a whole game.”
Martial, 27, has scored just 11 goals in his last 55 Prem games but Ten Hag refuted suggestions the boos were targeted at the Frenchman’s introduction.
He claimed: “It was because Hojlund came off but I don’t want to discuss that, so I don’t know.
“But Anthony Martial, last year, every time he played he had a very positive effect on our games.
“We almost lost no games with Anthony on the pitch.
“When he is fit he will definitely contribute. At this moment, he is not top fit.”
Goals from United old boy Danny Welbeck, Pascal Gross and Joao Pedro gave the Seagulls a convincing victory.
But despite his team being outplayed, Ten Hag had rose-coloured glasses on United’s performance.
He added: “We played well. You analyse that first half, we started well, we created chances.”
But the boss accepts results are a concern.
Fans didn’t seem happy when Ten Hag replaced Hojlund with MartialCredit: EPA
Ten Hag said: “Definitely, that bothers me. We have to be disappointed and annoyed because at United the demand is you win games.
“We have to see how the team sticks together and which players stand up and lead.”
Brighton are fourth in the table and boss Roberto De Zerbi said: “Football is nice because the small team can win in every moment.
“But it is not a surprise. The quality of the players of Brighton is very high and the organisation.
“I don’t know the problems of Manchester United but we are used to working in our style, we are playing with courage.”