The directive was clear when Manchester United hosted Sheffield United- Get all three points and stay top of the Premier League table.
The performance from Ole’s side couldn’t be in more contrast to that directive as they conceded an unsurprising early goal courtesy of a Kean Bryan’s flicked header. What was surprising, however, was the way Manchester United responded to the goal.
The team continued its lacklustre approach as the match wagered on, and although many of the Reds should be duly blamed, the biggest blame has to be Ole’s tactics and team selection.
The United manager stuck with his 4-2-3-1 formation but preferred Axel Tuanzebe to Victor Lindelof, while Eric Baily was rested and Telles started over Shaw. A midfield pivot of Pogba and Matic was used instead of the usual partnering of Fred and Mctominay, while the biggest question mark was the preference of Anthony Martial over Edinson Cavani in the attack.
The Frenchman has not been ‘ice-cold’ in weeks spanning into months and the decision to start him over Cavani was not well received by many.
Last night, no chances were created between Martial and Rashford which was why it was shocking to note that when Ole finally made his first change 25 minutes from time, he chose Mason Greenwood to come off instead of Martial (who was nursing a shoulder knock sustained during the game).
Bruno Fernandes also looked miles off his usual form and has now played the last four straight Premier League games without a goal or an assist. He was favoured ahead of Donny Von De Beek who didn’t get introduced until the 82nd minute alongside Luke Shaw.
However, it was a little too late for Ole’s side as they lost their chance at the top spot and also saw a 13-match unbeaten record in the Premier League ended.
What was Ole thinking?
Perhaps the United boss underrated Sheffield United seeing as they are bottom of the table, or perhaps Ole was relying on the fact that on seven occasions of him in charge at the club, United have come back from losing positions, but that luck ran out against Chris Wilder’s Sheffield side.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board for United. The display from the Reds last night epitomizes how they have performed generally under Ole. Abysmal form, good run of goalscoring form and then shock defeats. Ole’s squad let him down, but he did the biggest damage to himself with the line-up and questionable in-game tactics.
Fortunately for the side, there is a weekend fixture against Arsenal and if there is anything Manchester United are known for this season (other than conceding the joint-most goal from corners), it is their comeback style of football.