The former midfielder says the Red Devils were lucky to take anything from a trip to Sheffield United which saw them put in “their worst performance”
Manchester United were “dreadful” for 70 minutes against Sheffield United, says Owen Hargreaves, with a first half “disaster” slammed by a former Red Devils star and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactical calls questioned.
For long periods at Bramall Lane on Sunday it appeared as though the visitors would be left empty-handed.
Solskjaer saw his side fall two goals down amid another disjointed and uninspiring display on the road, with a remarkable seven-minute swing in the second half required to turn the tide.
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A stunning fightback saw United recover to take the lead at one stage, with Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford finding the target.
The Red Devils were unable to hang on though, as Oli McBurnie snatched a late leveller, and more criticism has been aimed in the direction of playing and coaching staff at Old Trafford.
Ex-United midfielder Hargreaves told Premier League Productions: “Good luck making sense of that. For 70 minutes they were dreadful, they really were dreadful – that was probably their worst performance of the season.
“The first half was a disaster, nothing short of. Sheffield United should have been up by more goals, but he [Solskjaer] made changes.
“The one thing you can take from it is that the young kids stepped up, so almost kind of out with the old, in with the young guys. That’s what you’ll get from today. Because his team shape and the inclusion of Phil Jones did not work.”
While being left puzzled by Solskjaer’s starting XI, as he opted to line up with three centre-halves, Hargreaves was also surprised to see Axel Tuanzebe introduced in a midfield berth when United should have been looking to blunt the Blades by scoring a fourth.
The former England international added: “If you think back to the last goal from Sheffield United, Tuanzebe is a centre-back, he came on the pitch and played in midfield to shore it up. Really you would do that with a more experienced player, to come in.
“That’s not even his natural position, but he wanted someone in there to protect and essentially it didn’t really work. Really, under the philosophy of Man Utd and Sir Alex [Ferguson], you probably would have thought with the game as it was, there was a fourth goal in it for United.
“Get the fourth and kill it off. But because he didn’t have that experience in there he put on Tuanzebe to protect and it went the other way. I really like him, but that last sub maybe didn’t go the way Ole wanted.”
United will be back in Europa League action against Astana on Thursday before taking in a run of Premier League games which will see them face Aston Villa, Tottenham – with former Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho now at the helm – and a derby date with Manchester City.