Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag dedicated his side’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Saturday to the club’s former player and legend Sir Bobby Charlton, whose death was announced only hours before they played.
“We have to pay our big goodbye and remembering Bobby Charlton, “ the Dutchman said. “What he did was magnificent. We said before the game about how he was not only outstanding on the pitch but also off the pitch.”
“So we wanted to credit it and reward his big personality. We did it with a win to celebrate that but also especially to remember Bobby Charlton. I think we did it in a decent way.”
“I heard that some players, they got inspiration from it. They wanted to win to mark it. It was an extra motivation, absolutely.”
“We are very sad and our thoughts are with his family. Especially with Lady Norma, with his children, his grandchildren. With his passing, a legend, a giant, is passing away. His achievements are so immense and huge. Global. You see the facts that he achieved, it is incredible. His titles, trophies, his contributions.”
“I had never had the honour to meet him, but I heard that despite all his trophies and games, he was so humble and a big personality. He was an example for all of us as a footballer and also society, globally.”
On Saturday United started slowly against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, and were fortunate to take the lead with a goal from Scott McTominay, his third in the last two games, before the hosts equalised with a penalty from Oli McBurnie.
“The first half was not our game,” Ten Hag said. “We made it their game. Opportune, direct. We made it too direct instead of keeping the ball, passing it round. Keeping them working. We were also very direct and then we lost control of the game.”
“They shouldn’t score, especially in such moments and that has to give confidence and take the ball and let the opponent run. We made some corrections at half-time and I think after half-time it was more the side we want to see.”
United had more possession and looked more of a threat in the second half and eventually secured a deserved win through Diogo Dalot’s wonderful strike from outside the penalty area in the 77th minute.
Ten Hag was eager to praise two other United defenders, Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans, for their performances in the centre of defence.
“I have to say to Harry Maguire, and Jonny Evans as well, but Harry, he is playing like we want him to play. Very proactive. Out of possession, dominating his opponent. Stepping in when necessary. Reading the game. But also in possession very proactive stepping in, delivering good passing. Vertical passing. Good switches. I am happy with his performance.”
United had to rely on goals from a midfielder and a defender to win the game, but Ten Hag said he was not concerned that his strikers are not contributing goals.
“[Rasmus Hojlund] is scoring for Denmark, he is scoring for us in the Champions League so he will score for us also in the Premier League. I have no doubts about that. Today he was two or three times in a very good spot. There will come his moment and he will finish.”