Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted that his Manchester United side are a much better side than the one he took over 11 months ago, praising their ‘fantastic’ response, scoring three goals in seven minutes after a woeful first-half display against Sheffield United.
Buoyed by their raucous home support, Sheffield United started by far the brighter of the two sides at Bramall Lane, the energetic Blades bullying a weak-looking Manchester United midfield and a defence which contained the ever-error prone Phil Jones.
It was Jones who was heavily at fault for the first goal, the former England defender messing up virtually every aspect of his defensive work against Lys Mousset, before John Fleck eventually put the ball past David de Gea.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side were poor for the vast majority of the game, and were deservedly 2-0 down when Andreas Pereira gave the ball away in the middle of the park, Mousset scampering away and firing past De Gea from the edge of the box after seven second-half minutes.
1 – Manchester United had just one shot in the first half against Sheffield United, the fewest they've had in the first half of a Premier League game under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Blunt. pic.twitter.com/4aB5gYm5tZ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 24, 2019
United looked dead and buried, though when 19-year-old left-back Brandon Williams scored with a sweetly-struck half-volley in the 72nd minute, it sparked a crazy finale of Premier League football. Fellow teenager Mason Greenwood levelled the scores five minutes later, latching onto a well-weighted Marcus Rashford cross, before Rashford himself completed the most remarkable of comebacks with 11 minutes to play.
That wasn’t the end of the drama though, Oli McBurnie levelling the scores once again in the 90th minute, and once VAR had decided not to rule it out for a very marginal handball, the game finally ended 3-3.
Speaking afterwards, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at a loss to explain his side’s poor start to the game, but was impressed with their ability to produce their stirring comeback.
“It’s football, sometimes it’s beyond tactics, the passion, the drive, the supporters first half, the energy of their team was so much different to ours, and then our energy and belief come back in,” he told Sky Sports.
“The difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is huge. At 2-0 down I’m thinking, my mind is going back to Everton, no doubt about the drive, the energy, the attitude of these boys. They never give in. Last year we would have been 3, 4, 5-0 down. It’s a big strive to come back from 2-0 down. And then things like that happen at the end.
“It’s not something you can put your finger on why we were so poor, but they looked like they wanted it more and they believed more.
“Sometimes it’s little margins here and there. We never had a real shot on target, that’s not good enough, but the response was fantastic.
“When you’re 2-0 you have to go for it, play with less fear, go for it, express yourselves and make things happen. What a finish by Brandon too, and then Mason scores so the average age of the goals today is less than 20 which is something we’re proud of. It’s great experience for Mason, Marcus and Brandon to come back to a stadium like this.
“It’s mixed emotions. You can’t be happy, we’ve not performed for the majority of the game but the attitude and the way they’ve turned things round, we’ve shown what we’re capable of and we’ve shown ourselves what we’re capable of. We should win games like this but you’ve got to learn from that disappointment of the first 70 minutes.”
The result leaves Sheffield United in sixth, while Manchester United moved up to ninth ahead of Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference.