Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his Manchester United team were missing a spark in their Premier League defeat by Sheffield United, but also pointed the finger at referee Peter Bankes for getting two key decisions wrong.
The Blades had managed just a single win all season long, but picked up a 2-1 victory thanks to Oliver Burke’s deflected strike, after Kean Bryan and Harry Maguire had netted headers.
United, by contrast, had been top of the table recently and were on a run of just one defeat in 13 games across all competitions – but they were slugging and lacking invention against Sheffield United, with the manager pointing to poor decision-making in both penalty boxes as being key.
“We had all the possession but when you concede two bad goals it’s always going to be difficult,” he told BT Sport at full-time.
"We put pressure but couldn’t penetrate and create big enough chances to score goals.
“That little bit extra [was missing]. They defended well, fair play to them and take nothing away but we didn’t have the right ideas today, the solutions weren’t there.”
Despite United’s lack of creative threat, Solskjaer felt the first time they put the ball in the net should have stood, when Anthony Martial tucked home after Aaron Ramsdale spilled a catch, challenged by Harry Maguire which the referee saw as a foul.
United’s boss felt both that, and the non-overturning of Sheffield United’s opener, were poor calls from the on-pitch official – though the VAR also opted against ruling out Bryan’s header past David de Gea.
Moreover, Solskjaer felt the theme of the season with surprising results and outside influences perhaps took its toll on United on this occasion.
"[First goal was a] foul. Billy Sharp runs into him. [Martia’s finish was] no foul. That’s two mistakes by the referee. The second goal we conceded is so poor, so sloppy. Lost the ball easy, get back into position but stopped getting out to the ball – three or four decisions were completely out of character.
“We’ve seen so many results this season out of character, but with the world as it is we’ve been very consistent, the most consistent team the last few months. It hit us today; we dust off the sad feeling and go again.”