- Aug 6, 2009
- Reaction score
Finally, the inevitable reality of relegation was confirmed after the Blades defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday evening at Molineux. After Newcastle beat West Ham, United knew to delay the inevitable confirmation of losing their place at the top table of English fooball, they had to win at Molineux.
The Blades lost their fifth straight league game and their ninth in ten games. The Blades have only scored three goals in these games and just one in the last five. Tonight, they gave a better effort and deserved something from the game at Molineux but Jose’s close-range finish from Traore’s cross settled a really poor game of football. Ironically United had created a fantastic chance just before the goal but Stevens fluffed his lines. The Blades showed more fight and heart in this contest but still never really looked like scoring and even though the defensive line was more solid, it was another game where you felt quality wise despite some good effort shown, we could not find the important moments in a game. United became the joint earliest side to get relegated in Premier League history with 6 games still to play.
Manager Heckingbottom made two changes from the latest defeat at home to Arsenal. Out went Lundstram and Burke. In came Bryan and Brewster. Osborn moved to midfield and Stevens went to left wing back. John Fleck was deemed fit enough to start. Youngsters Gordon and Brunt were on the bench.
There were two changes to the Wolves side who beat Fulham. Midfielder Ruben Neves was out following a positive Covid-19 test, while Pedro Neto was injured and out for the rest of the season. In came Joao Moutinho and Willy Boly, who is available again after a period of self-isolation.
United wore a fetching pink shirt with white shorts combo but the old gold of Wolves settled the better. Nelson Semedo nearly got away after running almost an entire half diagonally from his right wing back position but Baldock got back to cover.
Traore then was the next to show his running power but Bryan this time made a great interception and tackle; Stevens got injured in the aftermath but was ok to carry on.
The first Blades attack saw Osborn feed Baldock but his cross was too close to Patricio who clutched the ball.
Wolves had been enjoying more of the ball and the main threat seemed to be coming from Traore who stood Stevens up and sent a cross over which Norwood cleared for a corner. The delivery was sent out for a corner on the other side and as the ball ricocheted around it went goal wards and Norwood’s header via the bar saw the ball fall into Rams dale’s hands. It was a bizarre moment but the midfielder did well to get back and make the goal line clearance.
United had their first effort but it was ambitious as Fleck fired well over from 30 yards before a few minutes later, Brewster snatched at his effort and pulled it off target.
Wolves continued to have the bulk of possession but were not really looking that threatening. United were having little of the ball and when they had it, they were not able to go forward and it was quite slow and ponderous.
Podence had a shot over after Traore headed down whilst at the other end McGoldrick had half an opening when he got in but his touch let him down.
Ampadu’s error saw Wolves have a chance and the first attempt on goal as Ait-Nouri hit an effort and Ramsdale parried it up in the air and caught at the second attempt.
Ampadu somehow then escaped a booking after he had been warned for two fouls in quick succession earlier and tripped Podence but referee Jones decided to be lenient.
If United were fortunate here, then they were very unlucky when the officials made a total hash of an incident. Firstly, Brewster’s poor touch took the ball away from him but as Ait-Nouri and him went for the tackle, the free kick was strangely given to Wolves with Brewster booked. The replays showed Ait-Nouri had gone over the ball and it was an awful tackle on Brewster and he should have been red carded. Somehow, he escaped. The commentators seemed to suggest as Brewster had been penalised and booked it could not be looked at in terms of censure for the Wolves man when replays showed he was the offender. It was a lucky let off for the Wolves player when it looked a clear red card where he was out of control and dangerous.
Saiss was then fortunate to get away with poor play as he lost it to Baldock but Jones felt the United player had fouled him. Jones poor first half continued as he let play go away after Brewster had been fouled as United broke but then gave a soft free kick on Osborn after the Blades player took too long to get his pass away with McGoldrick well placed.
The half time whistle came soon after this as a Blades attack petered out with McGoldrick once again taking too long to make a decision. It had been a poor game with little quality from either side. At least United stayed in the game and had been competitive.
The second half Ramsdale fielded a low early cross for the Blades and at the other end, some patient stuff saw the ball come over from Fleck but McGoldrick could not find Brewster. United then had an attack down the right and at least showed some intent and were putting some men forward.
Podence’s cross was aimless after Norwood had given it away. Wolves were looking pretty clueless so far and United had maybe pulled them down to their level!
Stevens did well to hold off Traore and United then went forward and created a really good chance but from the resultant miss, disaster ensued as Wolves broke to take the lead.
Brewster got away down the right and put over a cross which missed everyone but fell perfectly for Stevens. The wing back completely fluffed the chance finding neither direction or power and it was easily blocked. The ball broke and Bryan unwisely tried to nip in but could not get there and suddenly Traore was running in behind. Egan could not keep up with him and the front man sprinted down the line and put over an inviting cross which JOSE turned in for his first Wolves goal. Ampadu was not able to get back and make a challenge but it was remarkable how the Blades had gone from a golden chance to conceding at the other end in a matter of moments.
The Blades tried to respond and some decent football saw Baldock and Osborn combine to win a coner and then not long after Stevens had a much better effort as he came inside and on his right foot hit a fizzing drive which Patricio tipped over.
Podence then brought down Brewster who ran down the left and was booked but Norwood’s free kick was overhit. Vitinha came on for Podence for the home side before a double change for United with Burke and Mousset coming on for Brewster and Osborn.
Stevens went down theatrically looking for a penalty but as the ball came back, a ball through set Mousset away and his cross was hit by Norwood goal wards but after it rebounded out Burke miscued badly. The flag actually went up rendering the chances meaningless in the end.
The game approached the final 10 minutes. Stevens was yellow carded for a foul on Traore and then Saiss had a great chance to put the game away but Ramsdale smothered from close range. At the other end, Baldock’s ball was poor and overhit as Burke looked to get in.
Bogle came on for Ampadu but it was the Wolves sub Silva who had an opportunity to seal the game but his shot was straight at Ramsdale. Traore then ran through but blazed over. The game entered an additional four minutes of stoppage time but United did not threaten at all in this time and Wolves, who themselves had been quite ordinary, saw the game out to take the three points. The Blades were officially confirmed as relegated.
United – Tonight obviously confirmed things in terms of relegation and in some ways is a bit of a relief. At least it is done now and the wider football world can shut up about it now. We have been down for ages of course but seemed to quickly come up this week in terms of the mathematical probability and then it being confirmed as Brighton, Newcastle got results etc. After Newcastle won earlier you knew it would be confirmed as of course we lose every week. I am not even exaggerating. It is pretty much every week and we never score seemingly too. It is quite depressing to think your football team loses almost every game and almost never scores.
To be fair United gave a better fist of things and it was our best performance under Heckingbottom. We were unfortunate to lose and has as much or if not the better of it. First half was a non-event really. They had the one deflection that hit the bar but no other clear chances. They were lucky not to be reduced to ten men and this probably proved a key moment as the officials/VAR somehow botched it completely again. 2nd half we began well and were the team looking maybe more likely with a few moments/half chances but then when Stevens missed and we made errors in decision making (both Stevens/Bryan) they broke and scored and you knew that was it. Other than the Stevens decent effort not sure we had many chances and even though we did ok and there were definite improvements individually and collectively, not sure we really looked like scoring or creating too much.
What I would say is we looked more resolute, we competed harder and defended better. I felt Wolves were awful. They looked as slow and unadventurous as we did but give credit to United who actually played a bit more like a team. The midfield was more compact and were not ran through as easy. Brewster looked lively at times and Osborn worked hard. Not sure any of the outfield players were brilliant but none were appalling. It went from shocking to an average showing but average is a massive improvement. For once the narrative of us being on the end of a close game where fine margins decided it, was actually right (has not been for the majority of the season).
He changed the team and bit and the shape was a bit different with Osborn playing as a kind of 10 maybe McGoldrick a bit more withdrawn (so at times it looked like a 5-2-2-1 or 3-4-2-1 whichever way you look at it!) we at least did move forward and have some attacks. I still felt it was slow and ponderous and even though Wolves were poor, whenever they got it to Traore I was concerned. It shows that you just need one man with pace and a direct, positive style.
After they scored then you sensed that was it. We gave it a bit of a go but it was not wave after wave of attacks. We have scored 17 goals. That is pathetic and well on course for the fewest ever in the top flight history and one of the fewest ever in any league ever.
We just at least finished the game better than we have many others where 1-0 has recently gone to 2 or 3-0. Heckingbottom at least got a performance of respectability out of the group. Odd at the end as the players could not really look gutted as they know it has been coming. It was an almost sense of inevitability, the same as it has been for supporters. The players as weird as it sounds are probably glad it is over. I thought they looked a bit more relaxed tonight and not as anxious.
Been another odd week, we had the Wilder statement which was classy but told us nothing, two strikers ruled out for the season and then the chairman quit last night. We have no idea why and some of the stuff on social media aimed at him and his family has been disappointing (disgusting you could say). He is a young lad (26) in a foreign country and when I saw the abuse he and Abdullah got when Wilder left; I thought they probably are wondering why they are bothering. Some of it was way over the top and quite personal/racist. We will see what happens but having no manager (and no sign of this being resolved) and no chairman (even if he was not really the one making the big decisions) is not a great look and the club looks a bit of a mess and no clear direction at all. Things do seem to be unravelling somewhat on and off the pitch. We need some direction and fast really as at the moment we just seem rudderless. Big calls need to be made. Maybe the owner will just let the next 4 weeks play out and finish the final 6 meaningless games and then make the calls on the manager? (and maybe a DOF or new management structure and/or chairman) At the moment now relegation has been confirmed we just want the games done and dusted so the club can regroup and have some direction going into next season. At the moment there is no plan that makes me think we can come close to replicating what Norwich, Watford or even Bournemouth have done.