Sheffield United show pluck but no points as they are hit by a Manchester United one-two

INJURY: Sander Berge's night was over after just 10 miunutesINJURY: Sander Berge's night was over after just 10 miunutes
INJURY: Sander Berge's night was over after just 10 miunutes
One piece of bad luck pounced on by two laser-like passes. That was all it took to burst Sheffield United's bubble.

For half-an-hour, it was like watching the 2019-20 Blades. Then bang.

Until then they had not just been positive and progressive, and they had even scored a goal. The problem is that, away from Old Trafford at least, it takes more than one goal to beat Manchester United.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A second David McGoldrick goal of the night showed Chris Wilder's men still have the fighting spirit they need, but they need points even more. There was to be no repeat of the 3-3 draw of last winter.

McGoldrick's opener came in freakish circumstances gift-wrapped by former Blades loanee Dean Henderson, but David McGoldrick's sixth-minute goal was already well deserved, and it looked like they would add to it, even after Sander Berge limped off with what looked like a hamstring strain.

As they showed when they played badly here last year, Manchester United's formidable forwards can redeem them from most situations, but the fact it was Phil Jagielka brought on to deal with their speedy frontmen made a difficult task harder.

The 38-year-old suffered the indignity of being withdrawn 51 minutes after coming on. The decision had backfired badly.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It did not look like the night would go that way early on but then Manchester United seem to take a perverse pleasure in giving their opponents a one-goal headstart away from home. They have allowed one in every Premier League away game this season, yet have won them all.

For the first time in a league game, Henderson had been chosen ahead of a fit David de Gea. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talked before the game about how the goalkeeper was learning the Manchester United way after maturing in two seasons on South Yorkshire but he overdid it, dwelling on the ball when a good old fashioned Blades boot was called for.

Oliver Burke pounced, and the ball squirmed out for McGoldrick to find the net.

The Blades did not sit on it, and should have doubled their lead on 17 minutes when some great work by Chris Basham allowed Burke to feed John Fleck, who shot just wide when he ought not to have.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Basham was by now playing in Berge's midfield role, Jagielka coming off the bench in preference to more natural replacements Oliver Norwood and Ben Osborn and play on Rashford's side of a back three which had Jack Robinson, seemingly written off by Chris Wilder, on the other.

From nowhere, the Red Devils equalised, Victor Lindelof pinging a ball from the back into Marcus Rashford, recipient of a Fifa award that evening for his charity off the field but still cruelly ruthless on it. One touch, goal.

The Blades carried on as before but the decision to pair Burke, who likes to peel wide with McGoldrick, who loves to drop deep meant that when the former got into a good crossing position the latter – or any home player, for that matter – was not available to pick out. Harry Maguire instead chested the centre to Henderson.

So Solskjaer's men did it again, Pogba this time playing the right-to-left pass and Anthony Martial scoring his first goal of the season. If it had been understandable that centre-back Lindelof was given so much time to pick his pass, it was unforgivable with the Frenchman.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A minute later Aaron Ramsdale was making a good save from Martial, played in by the third member of the attacking triumvirate, Mason Greenwood.

With 10 minutes to half time, the game had been turned on its head. The Red Devils' confidence with their backs to the wall was the polar opposite to the hosts when behind.

That much was evident in the start of the fourth goal, a pirouette by Pogba, a cheeky touch around the corner by Bruno Fernandes and a foul on Rashford which did nothing to stop the flowing move which ended at the feet of the England striker, yet again down the middle rather than on his nominal left-wing position. This time his finish fdid give Ramsdale a chance, but he was still unable to keep it out.

Soon they were trying a showboating corner, delivering a corner perfectly for Fernandes to volley wide. With more than half-an-hour to go, the contest was long over.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When substitute Rhian Brewster hit a fierce snapshot Henderson held comfortably, they went straight down the other end and had a shot by their own replacement, World Cup winner Juan Mata,saved from a Martial pull-back.

Brewster thumped a free-kick into the wall and John Egan headed a George Baldock cross over but it seemed another Blades defeat was unavoidable until McGoldrick's far-post header at a Fleck corner with 87 minutes gone.

The introduction of Dan James was swapped for defensive midfielder Scott McTominay and Henderson was booked for time-wasting after an outstanding save from Lys Mousset.

Solskjaer's and Pogba's frustration spilled over after a rough Robinson foul on Rashford. The managerial spat which prompted Wilder finger-pointed was ended when his counterpart offered his hand, Pogba's with Robinson by a yellow card each.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When the sides met here last season, the match was a bonus game for the hosts and they picked up a 3-3 draw. Such is their plight now, they cannot afford to pass up any points, even against forward lines of this quality.

There was pride salvaged by the way the Blades went to the end but with Burnley picking up a point in the earlier kick-off, the gap to safety is nine points or three wins – three more than the Blades have managed in the first third of their season.

Sheffield United: Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge (Jagielka 12 (Mousset 63)), Ampadu, Fleck, Stevens; Burke (Brewster 73), McGoldrick.

Unused substitutes: Sharp, Norwood, Verrips, Osborn.

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood (Mata 74), Fernandes (van de Beek 79), Rashford; Martial (McTominay 90).

Unused substitutes: de Gea, Fred, James, Shaw.

Referee: M Oliver (Ashington).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.