Kean Bryan’s header put Sheffield United ahead in the first half. Manchester United did hit back with a better second half, following a Harry Maguire header from a corner, assisted by Alex Telles. But it was the strugglers who took the points in Manchester after Oliver Burke’s strike in the 74th minute deflected off Axel Tuanzebe past David De Gea, giving the Blades a vital three points in the relegation scrap of their lives.
United were left frustrated on the night, with many players having an average night on Manchester turf. The Red Devils were aggrieved with Peter Banks after Sheffield United’s opening goal stood. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was disappointed with the decision and felt it changed the dynamic of the game.
Replays showed Billy Sharp had blocked David De Gea from getting to the ball from the corner kick supplied by John Fleck of Sheffield United. The Reds night was not to get any easier, after a coming together between Maguire and Aaron Ramsdale was judged to be a foul, ruling out Anthony Martial’s instinctive low finish on goal, which Solskjaer was neither pleased with.
United drop into second place
Although United had a disappointing first half, they came out the traps very quickly in the second. A lack of urgency, sharpness and desire to get back into the game was obvious for everyone to see in the first.
Sheffield United coming to town was no easy task, underdogs and a side desperate for points, proved to be a tall order for United. The Blades were up for the brave fight against the highflyers set up in a shape that was well drilled by Chris Wilder to break on the counter attack and upset the ranks of United.
Man United came into this game good on form unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions. With the result unexpectedly on the cards, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to pick up his squad once again with a trip to the Emirates Stadium next up on Saturday in the Premier League.
United’s lack of intent in the first half worked wonders for a Sheffield United team who sat back, figuring out a way to break down the opposition on the counter attack. Axel Tuanzebe and Alex Telles had poor games in defence and Nemanja Matic looked short for ideas in midfield, replacing Fred in the starting XI. Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic’s partnership in the middle of the park was exploited, with calls for Donny Van De Beek to be introduced for Mason Greenwood who’s finishing lacked any end product during the game.
Man United had 16 shots on goal during the game compared to Sheffield United’s 5, with four shots on target to Sheffield United’s three. The possession count for United was much higher with a 76% to 24% ratio at Old Trafford. The total pass count for the Red Devils was a massive 789 to Sheffield’s 255. United were much better statistically in every department, also having the better passing accuracy of 88% to the visitor’s 68%.
The statistics tell us the hosts lacked the end product on the night and were punished by a Sheffield United side who took their chances when in possession of the ball on the pitch. Although this is the first time in this campaign, United haven’t been able to make a comeback in a game after going behind.
Insights amongst history
Man United have lost four of their 10 Premier League home games this season, their most in a single campaign since 2013-2014 under David Moyes who lost 6 in his tenure.
Sheffield United are only the third side from Yorkshire to win at Old Trafford in any competition during the Premier League era, after Leeds United in January 2010 in the Emirates FA Cup and York City in September 1995 in the League Cup.
Man United have lost two of their last four Premier League home games against the side starting the day bottom of the table.
Since 2003-2004, Sheffield United are just the fourth side to have as few as five shots in a Premier League game at Old Trafford against Man United and win, after Burnley in January 2020, Crystal Palace in August 2019 and Swansea City in August 2014. All of these in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Phil Jagielka is still as fit as ever at 38
On just his second start of the season, Phil Jagielka was a rock at the back for Sheffield United clearing everything thrown at him in the penalty area with six clearances in total. Jagielka was the oldest player to start a Premier League tie at Old Trafford since Richard Gough in February 2001 for Everton.
The centre back played for Everton from 2007-2019 making 322 appearances and scoring 14 times compared to 264 appearances for Sheffield United scoring 18 times in his 9 years so far whilst at Sheffield United.
United are still contenders with Solskjaer calling for calmness
Man United are still in contention at the top, with this result seemingly just a blip in such an extraordinary, unpredictable season. The Premier League table is closer than ever and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows the players need to reset quickly before they take on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal who themselves have found some good form recently.
“This group of players have done it so many times and I expect our performance to be much better on Saturday of course. We got Arsenal, Southampton, Everton, three massive games for us, we cannot feel sorry for ourselves for too long. When I see them in the morning I expect them to get their mood back up and their focus for Saturday."