On Sunday, 24th November, 2019, Sheffield United hosted Manchester United at Bramall Lane hoping to continue their unexpected and yet deserved great run in the Premier league. The fact that the boys from the red half of Manchester were on the backfoot throughout the first half and for the most part of the second shows just how good and undaunting Sheffield United have been so far this season and how shaky and inconsistent Manchester United in comparison have been all season. Sheffield United should have been leading by a margin bigger than they had at the restart and they were duly rewarded for their dominance when Lys Mousset doubled the lead shortly after the restart after an error by Andreas Pereira who had quite a woeful game.
However, the changes made by Ole Gunnar Solksjaer at half time and during the second half paid off as Manchester United suddenly were revived in a 7 minute spell in which they scored three well-worked goals to take the lead, well against their condescending performances moments earlier in the match. They looked like they would be getting away with a precious victory but Sheffield United through Oliver McBurnie scored to snatch a more than deserved point minutes from time.
The three goals scored in that 7-minute spell were scored by players who had all come through Manchester United’s Academy much to the delight of the fans. 19-year old Brandon Williams who has been in the first team quite regularly following injuries to Luke Shaw and Ashley Young and some very decent performances pegged one back with a well placed hit into the bottom right corner. With Manchester United in the ascendancy, 18-year old Mason Greenwood got the Red Devils the equalizer following a De Bruyne-esque pass from Marcus Rashford. With belief and energy high, Manchester United were in front some few minutes later from some good attacking play led by Daniel James and calmly finished off by Marcus Rashford.
Manchester United fans would be wondering why it took their team so long to find the rhythm and spark that they showed in the last 20 minutes or so. The performance in the first half and for the early to mid part of the second was so appallng and disgraceful and so far below a team of top-half-of-the-table aspirations, and even more so a team of Manchester United’s pedigree and stature. It was quite clearly their worst performance this season. And then seeing the game burst into life later on, one can’t be blamed for wondering why they can’t just do that more often week-in, week-out.
All things considered however, that short spell promises hope for the future for a Manchester United side that had looked bereft of passion, direction and directness all game and brought some joy into the hearts of the fans watching. This is definitely glad tidings of great joy for the future if that display is anything to go by. Manchester United once again showed their fans and the onlooking world that the Red Manchester glory days though not in session are far from over, if they can improve on the latter display of the second half with consistency and regularity.
If these youth players can continue to give themselves a shout in the first team with such reassuring performances and continuous improvements to their game, they just might be what the baby-faced assassin needs to take this Manchester United team to the next level and give their fans what they rightfully expect of them.