Chris Wilder was unhappy that his players only played “20 minutes of football” in their 1-1 draw at Arsenal, and criticised his players for not “smelling” the opportunity to win.
The Blades have taken four points off last season's Europa League finalists, and sit four points above Mikel Arteta's side in the Premier League table, but they have not got their by settling for sub-standard performances.
After a bright start when Lys Mousset missed two headed chances, Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli put them into the lead at the end of the first half.
Sent out very early for the second half, Sheffield United struggled to get back into the game until the three substitutes manager Wilder threw on combined to create John Fleck's 83rd-minute equaliser.
“We competed for the first 10 minutes, we did for the last 10 minutes – that bit in the middle I wasn't too impressed by,” said Wilder.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for us to come here and win. The players never smelt it after the first 10 minutes, allowed the opposition to get a foothold in the game, and they did, and scored. I think they had two or three opportunities to stretch their lead but we managed to hang on in there and managed to grab something from 20 minutes of football. That really isn't enough if you want to go and win.
“We'll take a draw and move on but we've got to do a lot better than that.
“We took our foot off the gas, we were just looking for that little bit of quality that decides games and they found it with their goal. Then we kept turning the ball over.
“I don't think I've ever had to work so hard on the sidelines in terms of changing shape and trying to move things out to cajole my team to give them the best opportunity of getting something.
“the game for me was quite a simple game and we made it desperately complicated.
“We'll take a point. Our away record has been absolutely outstanding so we have to dust ourselves down for a tasty game on Tuesday (at home to Manchester City).”
Once they drew level, the Blades had shots from Fleck and Oli McBurnie blocked, and Mo Besic forced a rare save from Bernd Leno.
“They didn't kill us off and there was some last-ditch defending but we wouldn't have deserved to win even if we'd scored late on,” reflected Wilder. “The game's a ridiculous game. We possibly should have won but we wouldn't have deserved to.
“We'll dramatically tumble down the division if we play like that.”
Fleck admitted his side were poor in possession, but took it as a good sign that they were not beaten.
“We were sloppy on the ball at times, especially in the first half,” said the midfielder. “We got in some very good areas at times but we couldn’t find the final pass.
“It’s a good sign for us that we can stay in games, especially at this level. We have the ability to grind out points and we’ve done it again. It’s a good point for us.”
The Blades had been unbeaten this season until running into Manchester City and Liverpool in the space of the week, so to pick up a point from their next away game was significant.
“It’s important to get back our away record after City and Liverpool,” said Fleck. “We know that if they turn up on the day it’ll be very difficult for us to beat them. We came here with a plan, worked as hard as we could and we’ll take a point.”