Temperatures soared in England on Saturday and no one was feeling the heat more than Manchester United’s latest manager, Erik ten Hag.
On another humiliating day for a massive club in freefall, United conceded four goals in the first 35 minutes and was swept aside in a 4-0 loss at Brentford in the Premier League.
It’s two matches, two losses so far for Ten Hag, the Dutchman who arrived from Ajax in a bold offseason appointment as United’s fifth manager in nine years and looked shell-shocked in the dug-out as the goals poured in at Brentford Community Stadium.
It was understandable, too. United had never gone into halftime of a Premier League match trailing 4-0. Never before in the Premier League had United conceded so many goals so quickly.
There were so many individual mistakes — goalkeeper David de Gea let a weak shot dribble underneath him for the first goal, Christian Eriksen was tackled inside his own box prior to the second, and Brentford had two free headers at a corner for the third — that Ten Hag probably wanted to change most of his team at halftime.
He made three halftime substitutions, with Cristiano Ronaldo — back in United’s team after an offseason when he pushed to leave the club — staying on and playing the full match. He wore a frustrated look throughout.
“What I asked them to do was play with belief and take responsibility for their performance,” Ten Hag said. “That is what they didn’t do.”
Josh Dasilva, Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo were the scorers for Brentford, which pressed relentlessly and blew United away.
“It felt like we were on top of everything,” Jensen said. “They couldn’t cope with our pressure, our second balls, our intensity. You could see they were struggling.”
It might get even worse for Ten Hag and his new team, which opened with a 2-1 home loss to Brighton last weekend. Up next? It’s only fierce rival Liverpool, which will be eager to hand United a fifth straight loss stretching back to last season.
“We are, as a team, in a difficult process,” Ten Hag said. “Of course, you expect a different start. It is not what we expected … It seems like what happened in the past, last season, we bring into the new season. We have to change that really quickly.”
United’s meltdown came in the last of Saturday’s seven games that were played in sweltering conditions that reached as high as 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).
Manchester City and Arsenal both scored four goals in home wins and continue to set a hot early-season pace.
Man City didn’t even need Erling Haaland to score in its 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth.
Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden were City’s scorers along with an own-goal, with Haaland barely getting a sight on goal in his first match at Etihad Stadium.
The Norway striker scored both of City’s goals in its opening-weekend 2-0 win at West Ham but was mostly crowded out a week later, making just eight touches before coming off in the 74th.
A player who left City is thriving at Arsenal.
Gabriel Jesus played a starring role in the 4-2 win over Leicester, scoring the first two before halftime and providing the assists for second-half strikes by Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli.
Jesus, the Brazil striker who left City in the summer for a reported £45 million ($54 million), was in hot form for Arsenal in preseason and appears to be relishing being the starting striker once again after being in and out of City’s team.
An own-goal by William Saliba and James Maddison’s strike brought Leicester twice to within one goal of Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
GERRARD TOPS LAMPARD
Teammates for England, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were rivals in the dugouts as they went head-to-head for the first time as managers on Saturday.
Gerrard came out on top.
Despite a late wobble, Aston Villa beat Everton 2-1 for its first win of the season and left its opponent without a point. Danny Ings and Emi Buendia scored for Villa before an 87th-minute own-goal by Lucas Digne gave Everton hope.
Like Man United, Everton is on zero points after two games.
Back-to-back draws was probably as much as Fulham could have expected on its return to England’s big time.
It could have been much more, though, with Aleksandar Mitrovic having a late penalty saved in a 0-0 draw at Wolverhampton.
Jose Sa dived to his right to claw away the spot kick from the Serbia international, who scored twice in the 2-2 with Liverpool last weekend and was looking to score his 45th league goal in as many appearances for Fulham.
There were two other draws, with Brighton and Newcastle toiling to a 0-0 stalemate and Southampton coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Leeds.
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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80