Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes “a legend and giant” has been lost in the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton.
And Ten Hag said that his players were inspired to their 2-1 win at Sheffield United by wanting to pay a fitting tribute to the 1966 World Cup hero.
Charlton’s death at the age of 86 was announced four hours before kick-off at Bramall Lane, as Diogo Dalot curled home a suitably spectacular winner late on.
Having said before the game United ‘have to win for Sir Bobby’ following the announcement of Charlton’s passing, it was appropriate in-form midfielder Scott McTominay should put the visitors ahead with a well-taken effort just before the half hour.
But after Oli McBurnie had drilled a superb penalty into the corner when McTominay handled just six minutes later, it was left to Dalot to provide the appropriate ending in honour of the man who scored so many memorable goals during the 17 years at Old Trafford in which he became one of the greatest Englishman to ever lace up his boots.
Man of the match Harry Maguire said the news had “hit us hard” and, speaking to Sky Sports, spoke about how Charlton “lit the place up” when he came into the United dressing room.
“He’d always come in if we won or lost but his presence was really felt in the dressing room,” said the England defender. “You’d always see him around the club. We will miss him.”
Charlton’s ill health in recent years means Ten Hag never got to meet the man who has a statue in his honour outside Old Trafford and after whom the main stand is named.
The Dutchman would not have to walk around Old Trafford’s rooms too much to understand the legacy Charlton leaves; the visiting fans chanted his name before kick-off and after the final whistle.
“Of course we are very sad and our thoughts are with his family and especially his wife Lady Norma, his children and his grandchildren,” said Ten Hag.
“It is a legend, a giant passing away. His achievements are so immense and huge. It is global, not only England; you see the facts he achieved is incredible.
“All the games; his titles, his trophies, the contribution he had with his goals. I never had the honour to meet him but I heard, despite all his trophies and games, he was so humble.
“A big personality and an example for all of us as a footballer and also in society and global wide.
“It was an extra motivation, absolutely.”
Man Utd struggles continue despite win
Charlton is one of the most significant figures in the storied history of Manchester United that the current crop of players are finding it difficult to live up to.
Even in victory, at times they looked disjointed.
Their struggles were encapsulated in stoppage time when Antony Martial was presented with a three-on-one situation as he bore down on the home goal.
Martial elected to go left to fellow substitute Alejandro Garnacho rather than right to Bruno Fernandes. Garnacho put the chance wide, but it transpired he had run offside anyway.
Sofyan Amrabat operated as a de-facto quarter-back, playing deeper than Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof, who were given the responsibility of starting attacks but rarely did so with any speed or purpose.
Fernandes flicked a first-half free-kick off the crossbar and Amrabat’s long-range effort thudded against the other one after the break.
However, other than an excellent save from Wes Foderingham to deny Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford sending an low effort wide of the far post, the visitors were not convincing, until Dalot stepped in to win it.
Blades lack cutting edge
Sheffield United suffered a club record eight-goal hammering by Newcastle on their last outing on home soil.
There are two sides to Paul Heckingbottom’s team though. There is also the one that was level with Manchester City with five minutes left and that led at Tottenham heading into injury time.
This performance was very much from the latter variety.
Cameron Archer forced Andre Onana into two decent first-half saves, the second of which also required some assistance from Amrabat.
The Blades’ midfield passing game was sharp and exploited the gaps that appeared as their opponents struggled with the positional aspect of their game.
At one point, Onana went down apparently injured, triggering the visitors entire outfield contingent to head over to their manager on the touchline for what was something akin to a tactical time-out.
A dipping, swerving long-range second-half effort from substitute Rhian Brewster also tested Onana.
The thunderous manner of McBurnie’s equaliser suggested that despite their plight, there is still belief in the Sheffield United camp.
But the fact it was the Scotland forward’s first goal of the season also shows the class to make a tangible impact at this level is simply not there.
Player of the match
with an average of 7.35
Squad number9Player nameMcBurnie
Squad number8Player nameHamer
Squad number19Player nameRobinson
Squad number28Player nameMcAtee
Squad number10Player nameArcher
Squad number5Player nameTrusty
Squad number21Player nameVinicius Souza
Squad number16Player nameNorwood
Squad number14Player nameThomas
Squad number18Player nameFoderingham
Squad number7Player nameBrewster
Squad number20Player nameBogle
Squad number11Player nameTraoré
Squad number23Player nameOsborn
Squad number39Player nameMcTominay
Squad number5Player nameMaguire
Squad number20Player nameDiogo Dalot
Squad number11Player nameHøjlund
Squad number35Player nameEvans
Squad number17Player nameGarnacho
Squad number2Player nameLindelöf
Squad number4Player nameS Amrabat
Squad number14Player nameEriksen
Squad number8Player nameBruno Fernandes
Squad number24Player nameOnana
Squad number19Player nameVarane
Squad number21Player nameAntony
Squad number10Player nameRashford
Squad number7Player nameMount
Squad number9Player nameMartial
- 5TrustyBooked at 45mins
- 14ThomasBooked at 37mins
- 28McAteeSubstituted forOsbornat 78′minutes
- 21de Souza CostaBooked at 62mins
- 8HamerSubstituted forTraoréat 84′minutes
- 9McBurnieSubstituted forBrewsterat 52′minutes
- 25Ben Slimane
- 35EvansBooked at 82minsSubstituted forVaraneat 84′minutes
- 4S Amrabat
- 39McTominaySubstituted forEriksenat 63′minutes
- 21AntonySubstituted forGarnachoat 64′minutes
- 8Bruno Fernandes
- 10RashfordSubstituted forMountat 88′minutes
- 11HøjlundSubstituted forMartialat 63′minutes
- 34van de Beek
- Michael Oliver
Match ends, Sheffield United 1, Manchester United 2.
Second Half ends, Sheffield United 1, Manchester United 2.
Foul by Anthony Martial (Manchester United).
Auston Trusty (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Manchester United. Bruno Fernandes tries a through ball, but Anthony Martial is caught offside.
Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jayden Bogle (Sheffield United).
Offside, Manchester United. Anthony Martial tries a through ball, but Alejandro Garnacho is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Cameron Archer (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ben Osborn with a cross.
Substitution, Manchester United. Mason Mount replaces Marcus Rashford.
Attempt missed. Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Bruno Fernandes following a corner.
Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Jack Robinson.
Attempt blocked. Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Foul by Victor Lindelöf (Manchester United).
Bénie Traoré (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Jack Robinson (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Oliver Norwood with a cross.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Raphaël Varane.
Substitution, Sheffield United. Bénie Traoré replaces Gustavo Hamer.
Substitution, Manchester United. Raphaël Varane replaces Jonny Evans because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
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