"It was positive" - Erik Ten Hag's surprising response to Man Utd booing as he defends out-of-form striker

Manchester United were well beaten 3-1 by Brighton on a dismal afternoon at Old Trafford.

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Erik Ten Hag issued a staunch defence of Anthony Martial after Manchester United fans booed the Frenchman replacing new man Rasmus Hojlund in the defeat against Brighton.

There were loud boos around Old Trafford when Hojlund’s first United start ended on 64 minutes and Martial took his place. 

The hosts were 2-0 down at the time and things got no better as Brighton ran out 3-1 winners on a miserable afternoon for Ten Hag at the end of an international break dominated by issues off the field. 

The booing was the clearest show of discontent with the Dutchman as United’s poor start to the Premier League season continued. 

When asked about the reaction from supporters, Ten Hag said: “I think it was positive, it was his (Hojlund’s) first time at Old Trafford. 

“The reception for him was great, I think he performed very well so I think it’s good that they sent him this message and it will give him belief. 

“Everyone knows he came in with a small (injury) issue. We built him over the last three or four weeks and he’s not ready for a whole game and we have many games to play at short notice.”

Pressed further, Ten Hag brushed off any suggestion that the booing was for Martial - who has struggled to find anywhere near his best form this season. 

“I think it was because Rasmus Hojlund came off,” the Dutchman added. “Anthony Martial last year every time he played he had a very positive effect on our games.

“When he is fit he will definitely contribute. At this moment he is not top fit but he is improving and I’m sure when he’s 100% fit he will contribute like he did last season.”