Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Sheffield United 0: Blades show fight, just not always in the right way

After another weekend rolling with some heavy punches, Sheffield United came to Molineux and showed there is some fight left in them – just not always directed in the right way.

Unfortunately, their refusal to bow to the inevitable only highlights that they lack the quality for the Premier League.

Wolverhampton Wanderers were made to sweat over a 1-0 win that looked like it would be far more comfortable when the Blades were bickering with each other shortly after allowing Pablo Sarabia to score.

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As Jack Robinson and Vinicius Souza slapped each other in an argument presumably about who should have been marking who or tracking back after Pedro Neto shot over Sheffield United's goal, you worried what it said about a dressing room fighting a losing battle.

TALKING POINT: Jack Robinson speaks to referee Darren BondTALKING POINT: Jack Robinson speaks to referee Darren Bond
TALKING POINT: Jack Robinson speaks to referee Darren Bond

It was hardly Lee Bowyer v Kieron Dyer, never mind Tyson Fury v Derek Chisora, but video assistant referee Jarred Gillet was busy-bodying through the footage to see if he could send one or both off for violent conduct.

Not for the last time, the Blades were shown mercy. Pity is the last thing professional footballers should want, but it was gratefully received nonetheless, and sensible. To attach “violent” to their conduct was stretching it. Childish, certainly.

Once the air cleared, the Blades fought with rather than against each other to ensure no further damage and even threaten an equaliser, not least when Nelson Somedo's wild swing at a Robinson long throw-in presented a surprised Auston Trusty with an 87th-minute chance he could not convert.

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It was a dangerously-placed Gustavo Hamer free-kick booted way over heads of the gathered red-and-white shirts that prompted Molineux to sing "That's why you're going down," but really, there were plenty such examples – James McAtee falling over miscontrolling, Trusty's touch so heavy as to set up a counter-attack, the handbags, and the defensive ineptitude for the goal.

GETTING SUTCK IN: Jayden Bogle of Sheffield UnitedGETTING SUTCK IN: Jayden Bogle of Sheffield United
GETTING SUTCK IN: Jayden Bogle of Sheffield United

There were few better examples of their scrambled minds than Ivo Grbic, out of his goal, stopping because he had see Souza go down with cramp. It does not work like that. He had not even booted the ball out of play first, just passed it wide for Sarabia to collect.

He too had mercy, declining to go all Nwankwo Kanu – the Arsenal forward once created an unprecedented FA Cup replay by scoring when Sheffield United returned the ball to him after a sportingly-conceded throw-in in 2020.

"I would have felt uncomfortable if Pablo had carried on,” said Wolves manager Gary O’Neil, although he did add: “It would have been easier if he had managed to get it off the pitch rather than kicking it to Pablo.”

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If O’Neil was sanguine then, the anger in Robinson and Souza was probably stirred by the circumstances around the only goal.

GOAL: Pablo Sarabia (left) celebrates putting Wolverhampton Wanderers in frontGOAL: Pablo Sarabia (left) celebrates putting Wolverhampton Wanderers in front
GOAL: Pablo Sarabia (left) celebrates putting Wolverhampton Wanderers in front

Minutes earlier, McAtee had been sent through one-on-one by a Hamer pass, the Blades' fourth good chance of a half which saw Wolves have 70 per cent of possession.

The Manchester City loanee’s shot completely lacked conviction, an insult to goalkeeper Jose Sa.

Rayan Ait-Nouri was soon down the other end, crossing for Sarabia to glance a header in from glorious isolation after Trusty was pulled out of position and Yasser Laroucci failed to come over on the cover.

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It was one of only two Wolves' shots on target, thanks in no small part to Anel Ahmedhodzic. Maybe it was because he was in the more familiar surroundings of the right of a back three as opposed to the middle, maybe it was coincidence, but he looked more comfortable at all aspects of his game – sweeping up better for that view along the line Laroucci had for the goal, and able to get forward like he did last season.

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Even before McAtee's chance, the visitors carved out three chances for Rhian Brewster.

Two came at once, the striker first volleying at Craig Dawson, then forcing a good save from the rebound. With 19 minutes on the clock, they were the first Blades chances of a one-sided start but it showed their threat on the counter-attack.

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So did Jayden Bogle winning a good header from the recalled Grbic's kick to release Brewster but, put under pressure by Toti, he missed the target.

It broke the monotony of Wolves passing at the other end but a Premier League side ought to have broken the deadlock before Sarabia did.

Matching Wolves' 3-4-3 and pushing Ahmedhodzic forward more, the Blades had the better of the second half without enough threat.

Ahmedhodzic had a shot blocked, McAtee dragged wide and Brewster was unable to beat Sa as he stretched to a good McAtee cross.

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Laroucci had to defend well to stop Pedro Neto turning Trusty’s heavy touch into a disaster and Joao Gomes shot straight at Grbic in stoppage time, but it was definitely the Blades' half. If only the quality was there to go with it.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Sa; Kilman, Dawson, Gomes; Semedo, Lemina, Joao Gomes, Aït-Nouri (Doyle 77); Sarabia (Doherty 90), Hwang (Bellegarde 85), Neto.

Unused substitutes: Bueno, Traore, Bueno, Bentley, Chirewa, Fraser.

Sheffield United: Grbic; Bogle, Ahmedhodzic, Trusty, Robinson, Larouci (Osborn 72); Norwood (Davies 83), Souza (Osula 83), Hamer; McAtee; Brewster (McBurnie 83).

Unused substitutes: Foderingham, Arblaster, Curtis,, Brooks, Sasnauskas.

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).

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