Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not launch a huge inquest into their defeat to bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United on Wednesday night and insists the Red Devils will dust themselves down and “go again” at Arsenal this weekend. Solskjaer’s charges were stunned 2-1 by the Blades in arguably the most surprising result of the season.
United’s Old Trafford defeat ended a 13-match unbeaten run as Oliver Burke fired the struggling Yorkshire outfit to victory and also pierced the growing bubble of optimism around the club.
Just 10 minutes before Burke’s strike United captain Harry Maguire had headed the hosts level to cancel out Kean Bryan’s first-half and the home team were expected to go on and produce yet another comeback for all three points.
But they failed to do so and instead conceded again due to poor defending as they allowed substitute Burke to fire the visitors back in front to claim just their second win from 20 matches this term.
The defeat gives Manchester City a chance to go four points ahead of United if they win their match in hand on the Red Devils, having thrashed West Brom for a seventh straight league win on Tuesday night.
A first victory over Liverpool since March 2018, at Old Trafford in the FA Cup on Sunday after drawing against the Reds in the league at Anfield a week earlier, had given United fresh belief that they could go on and end an eight-year title drought this season.
But they were lackadaisacal against Sheffield United and conceded two poor goals in their defeat, which has checked their momentum.
Yet Solskjaer insists he will not lay into his side despite their poor performance and the disappointing result and has backed them to respond at the Emirates on Saturday evening, as they go to north London with revenge on their mind after losing at home to the Gunners at the start of November.
He said to BT Sport: “Nah, no big inquest. Of course we’re disappointed but we’ve seen so many results this season that are out of character. We’re surprised but with the world as it is, we’ve been waiting for…
“We’ve been the most consistent team the last few months, it’s just hit us today. We dust off the sad feeling and go again.”
The Norwegian coach further lamented: “We had all the possession but when you concede two bad goals, it’s always going to be difficult. We didn’t create enough.
“We put pressure on them but didn’t penetrate enough in behind and didn’t create enough chances to score enough goals.
“It’s not [that we were lacking] inspiration. That magic, that was missing, that little bit extra. There was not a lot of space to run into, they defended well.
“Fair play to them. Take nothing away from their performance. We didn’t have the right ideas or solutions, they weren’t there.
“It wasn’t to be. The second goal we concede is so poor, so sloppy. We lose the ball easy, get back into position but then we just stop getting out to the ball.
“Absolutely three or four decisions there that are completely out of character. That’s maybe down to the season it is, as well.
Solskjaer was frustrated that Sheffield United’s first goal was allowed to stand as he felt Billy Sharp fouled David de Gea to allow Bryan to make it 1-0.
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He said bluntly: “It’s a foul. Foul. Billy Sharp jumps into him from behind. He can’t even get up, it’s a foul. At the other end no foul. It’s this kind of season.
“It’s going to be inconsistent and unpredictable. But that’s two mistakes by the referee.”
Goalscorer Maguire meanwhile similarly declared that United were the makers of their own downfall having got an equaliser to make it 1-1.
“It wasn’t good enough, we didn’t play to the level we have in recent weeks,” the United captain declared.
“We gave them two goals, now it’s time to stand up and be counted because it’s easy when you are winning football matches – when you lose it is about how quickly you bounce back.
“We started the game in full control. We have to do more, we made it hard for ourselves, got ourselves back in it and you can’t lose it from there.
“We knew at half time the next goal would be crucial, we had great belief we could do that again.
“We weren’t good enough tonight and didn’t play to a level we expect from ourselves.”