On the day that it was announced that Sir Bobby Charlton, the greatest player in the history of Manchester United’s history, had passed, a win is the only thing that could suffice. A win did come courtesy of McTominay and Dalot, which sandwiched an equaliser from the spot for McBurnie. Again, alike what we have seen from the team all season, it was far from vintage. The strike from Dalot deserves a special mention, not just for being the winner, but it was good curled effort. A 5th win of the season going into two massive home games, it is a decent start to an already crunch week this season.
Are Glasses Enough?
One of the things that is able to act as a safety net for fans is knowing that there is something being built towards. If the team isn’t winning, there can still be a semblance of support when it can be seen that a process has been put in place. It is what plenty of Red Devils fans held in their hearts when the appointment of Erik Ten Hag was confirmed almost 18 months ago.
Yet, despite the somewhat positive season that was had prior, there was not enough to be seen in terms of style of play. United had found a way to win games and become more resilient in their mentality and keeping the ball out of the net, even if old habits reared its ugly head in the ugliest ways at times, but it was not free flowing, controlling of opposition or domineering. Games were won by slender margins on the majority of occasions and a lot of times when points were dropped, it was because of the lack of offensive quality on show.
It is difficult to get that quality on show when the two thirds further back aren’t contributing when the team has the ball. It feels like I have been banging my head against the wall when it comes to mentioning the fact that United are unable to progress, circulate or slow the flow of the ball when they need to but it is just such an obvious stumbling block that I cannot help but do so on any occasion that it hinders us as it did today.
The Blades started brightly as they did against Newcastle, the game in which they eventually fell foul of 8 goals without return. The problem that this team faces is that they will continue to let the barrage hit them in the face whereas other teams, the good ones, will find a way to stem the flow. It is because of things like Bruno Fernandes’ prolifically pathetic proclivity to concede possession in the absolute most inane ways. The constant complacency in passing from players like Dalot and Lindelof, both of who should be capable of better, adds to that. But perhaps the most microcosmic summation of United’s woes is the fact that they are unable to concentrate straight after they are able to get the joy of scoring a goal. 6 of the last 14 goals that have gone past Onana have come straight after United have scored a goal.
These issues aren’t new but now, Erik Ten Hag is no longer enough. Now these are bad habits he has inherited but not stamped out yet. So the issues are still there but there has been little to no progression in the ideals that he has wanted to implement into the team. People can only try to see what you are trying to do for so long before they actually need to see it. The last two games may have been wins but the underlying concerns have not been swatted away in the way we thought the wins would have.
McTominay continued his hot streak in front of goal before conceding the penalty that would bring Sheffield United level. In spite of this, it is quite concerning that Ten Hag continues with the Scotsman ahead of Bruno Fernandes when they have to play together. In those 26 minutes before we went ahead for the first time, Man Utd were unable to control any facet of the game. A lot of it came down to this tactical quirk. It was the same thing he done in the first half away at St James Park when we were utterly dominated. Hopefully, this is the last we see of it. It is uncomfortable viewing for us and I am pretty sure it’s uncomfortable for the players in question.
The VAR had a good look at a challenge that Maguire made against McAtee and fortunately, they erred on the side of caution that Michael Oliver did. I mention it because outside of that, he performed relatively well alongside Evans. Of course, this is a partnership that played a lot at Leicester so they are well aware of what they can do. Maguire was very good in the air, as he is known to be, and played a few angled passes over to Rashford that were able to almost get him isolated in 1v1 situations. Much like the whole team, it wasn’t stellar but it was enough on the night.