'Out of this world' - Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville explain how Brighton dismantled Manchester United
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Albion dismantled Erik ten Hag’s side 3-1 at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday, September 16, to continue their impressive start to the 2023/2024 season.
Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher was very impressed by the Sussex side’s performance, especially considering how well Manchester United started the game before Danny Welbeck gave Brighton the lead in the 20th minute.
Carragher took to Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football to explain how Roberto De Zerbi adapted his tactics to claim the memorable victory.
When discussing Welbeck’s goal, the pundit said: “What gave them the opportunity to change, was scoring the first goal. A lot of the time we see the centre-backs are quite narrow. The have a box with the two centre-backs and the two midfielders and they try and entice the opposition on to them and then play round them.
“They will then play a pass through the middle. It cuts through them and plays it wide. That’s a normal way of how Brighton play. They don’t rush forward and they are still enticing Manchester United forward.
“More often then not a player will play wide, but again they play in the middle, where the bodies are, again to entice the Manchester United players even closer inside because they trust each other to deal with the ball. Then the space goes bigger in the wide positions and it’s just a brilliant goal.”
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Following Welbeck’s opener, Brighton started to dominate the game and claimed two further goals through Pascal Gross and Joao Pedro.
Carragher pointed out how De Zerbi asked his two centre-backs to position themselves wider whilst building up from the back, enabling his side to gain control of the tie.
The former centre-back said: “He [De Zerbi] says that [Lewis] Dunk and [Jan Paul] van Hecke have to go wider. Where we normally see the Brighton centre-backs play narrow and entice people on. He said they need to play wider because that’s where the space was. What that did was brought the goalkeeper more into the game.
“He [Jason Steele] was lot more involved in the game. The reason being because the centre-back split so far, he almost had to be the middle centre-back and get involved a lot more.
“Van Hecke is enticing the opposition in by playing small passes [to his midfielders] to bring them closer. They have that confidence. We’ve seen that before. But the difference is normally we would see Dunk in narrow alongside him. But because of the system, Dunk goes wider and he is comfortable to leave his mate on the ball, he’s also got his goalkeeper there if needed and then he can go into the space in front of him.
"Because of this, it means your fullback can go higher, it means the winger can come inside and we always know the striker goes deeper. We know that, but the winger never comes inside as much.
"Brighton adapted brilliantly. That was the message from the manager, but the players still have to carry it out on the pitch.”
A total of 29 and 21 passes in a row were completed before the Seagulls second and third goal at Old Trafford, leading Carragher to label De Zerbi’s brand of football ‘out of this world’.
Carragher said: “The football we are seeing from Brighton right now is out of this world. I don’t think any result we see Brighton get now is a shock. We are watching one of the best teams in the Premier League and certainly one of the best managers.”
Gary Neville added: “It was a worrying, concerning day that Brighton were better than Manchester United. Brighton were fantastic, they did what they did with a group of players that aren't as sexy or valuable, but they were the better team.”