Phil Jagielka may have disagreed, but it says everything about Sheffield United’s progression that manager Chris Wilder was disappointed to draw with Manchester United yesterday.
The Blades were the better team at Bramall Lane, but a devastating burst of three goals in seven minutes meant they had to settle for a 3-3 Premier League draw.
Sheffield United had been 2-0 up and looking like seeing out the win until Brandon Williams’s first senior goal after 72 minutes. Substitute Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford quickly followed it up.
Rather than accept defeat, the Blades hit back, equalising through Oli McBurnie in the 90th minute.
The goal took some time for the video assistant referee to confirm, with Manchester United complaining of handball as he controlled a pass from fellow substitute Billy Sharp, but after their disappointment at Tottenham Hotspur in the previous game, this time they had cause to thank the man from Stockley Park.
McBurnie reacting calmly, telling referee Andre Marriner it was “never in doubt,” but admitted afterwards: “The boys were getting me scared saying it touched my hand. I was worried – we’ve had a couple of VAR decisions go against us.”
Whether you viewed the game from the perspective of being 2-0 up, or from the viewpoint of being 3-2 down determined the post-match mood and while Jagielka was satisfied, his manager was not.
“They were 2-0 down and we were in control,” said Wilder. “(I’m a) little bit disappointed. A couple of hours on and after a couple of beers we’ll look back on it.
“We might get undone a couple of times and we got undone today, but we came roaring back.”
The Blades deserved their 2-0 advantage, Lys Mousset bullying Phil Jones to create John Fleck’s opener, then scoring the second early in the second half after stroking a pass from the midfielder into the net.
The Devils were jolted into action, changing personnel and formation throughout the second half. Jagielka, making his first Premier League start for Sheffield United since 2007, had a more positive view of the match.
“I think we’re happy with the point,” said the former England defender, who rejoined the club after 12 years at Everton in the summer.
“To have gone 3-2 down with 10 minutes left, and to have been 2-0 and half thrown it away, then getting the equaliser... a point’s still a point and points are very valuable in the Premier League. We’d have loved three and the gameplan was working fantastically well, especially in the first half, but as you’d expect, they’ve got a lot of talent at their disposal, they managed to change things up, change formation and we paid the price.
“We probably got nervous and edgy for the first time this season and we probably struggled to deal with it for five or 10 minutes.”
The 37-year-old was making his first appearance in what had hitherto been an unchanged Premier League defence this season after John Egan suffered a clash of heads playing for the Republic of Ireland on Monday. Simon Moore was making his Premier League debut in goal because the on-loan Dean Henderson was unable to face his parent club, but apart from those seven manic minutes had little to do.
“It was nice to be back,” said Jagielka. “I’ve had to wait my turn. It was unfortunate Eags wasn’t able to play. He’s had a fantastic start to the season, which is why I’ve been watching more games than I would have liked but I fully understand the role I’ve got here. It would have been nice to have kept a clean sheet and kept him out for a little while but it’s still a positive result and it was nice to get out there.”
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted the Blades’ greater desire had left him fearing a repeat of Manchester United’s 4-0 defeat at Everton earlier this year.
“They looked like they wanted it more than us,” said the Norwegian. “The energy of their team was different to ours, then we get a goal and the belief comes back.
“The difference between this team and last year, at 2-0 I’m thinking we’re going back to Everton. Last year, we would’ve been four or five down.”
The point moved the newly-promoted Blades up to sixth in the Premier League.