THE NOTEBOOK: Bramall Lane pays tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton and Tommy Hoyland, Andre Onana shows he CAN confound his critics, and Manchester United fans continue anti-Glazer protests
- Bramall Lane paid tribtue to arguably England’s greatest ever footballer
- However, there was still room for anti-Glazer protests among the United fans
- Sheffield United need James McAtee to find his Championship form again
Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane was far from a routine evening out.
The spirit of the match was dominated by the memory of Sir Bobby Charlton, who passed away a few hours before kick-off.
Emotions were running high and so too was the venom felt towards the Glazer family, who were the subject of yet more protests.
Sheffield United are mired at the foot of the table and will need James McAtee to recapture his Champiosnhip form, while Paul Heckingbottom will be disappointed not to take something against his old team.
Here is Mail Sport’s notebook from Sheffield United vs Manchester United.
Bruno Fernandes laid a wreath for Sir Bobby Charlton before kick-off at Bramall Lane
Sir Bobby Charlton tributes ring out
Raw emotion dripped from every corner of Bramall Lane last night.
Manchester United fans arrived in Sheffield still coming to terms with the news of Sir Bobby Charlton’s passing, but they certainly honoured his memory.
Chants of ‘There’s only one Bobby Charlton’ were aired throughout the game, while captain Bruno Fernandes laid a wreath on the pitch before kick-off.
Blades supporters also paid tribute their own club legend, Tommy Hoyland, who passed away on October 4.
Sheffield-born Hoyland’s time at Bramall Lane covered three decades, featuring 181 appearances and 18 goals.
Supporters produced a round of applause on four minutes, as a mark of respect to his shirt number.
Chants of ‘there’s only one Bobby Charlton were sung throughout United’s victory
Andre Onana meets Erik ten Hag’s demand
Andre Onana’s form since joining Manchester United from Inter Milan in the summer could be described as patchy at best.
High-profile errors in a number of games have seen the Cameroon international goalkeeper come in for some fierce criticism.
Even United boss Erik ten Hag admitted on Friday it was time for the £47.2million signing to raise his game.
The message was heeded with Onana making a fine save to keep out Oli McBurnie’s fierce low shot as early as the third minute.
Onana then showed a no-nonsense approach to catch a dangerous cross from Gustavo Hamer, leaving team-mate Jonny Evans in a heap in the process.
Andre Onana raised his game after Erik ten Hag’s warning to pick up his performance levels
Still, it was all in a good cause.
Midway through the first half, Onana made another impressive save, this time turning away Cameron Archer’s low shot.
He denied Archer with another smart stop as half-time approached before further saves after the break to keep the Blades at bay.
On this evidence, perhaps Onana can confound his critics and carve out a long-term future at Old Trafford after all.
Anti-Glazer protests continue
Travelling supporters once again protested against the Glazer family, chanting for them to go while displaying a flag emblazoned with the words ‘Glazers Out’.
It was held aloft during the first half and then draped over the advertising hoardings directly behind the goal where Oli McBurnie drew the hosts level from the penalty spot.
The latest anti-Glazer protests came in a week where Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s bid to take part-ownership in the club appeared to move a step closer.
Manchester United supporters protested against the Glazer family (note: this photograph shows fans celebrating Diogo Dalot’s goal)
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is hoping to control the football department at Manchester United
In return for putting in £1.4billion, the lifelong United and billionaire would secure a 25% stake and gain control of the football department.
The Glazer protests aside, this was a night for the away fans to celebrate a poignant victory in a fitting tribute to Charlton, their greatest-ever player.
Paul Heckingbottom’s Blades stand their ground against manager’s former side
Paul Heckingbottom credits his two years in the Manchester United youth ranks as a key period in his football career.
He was playing for the club’s Under-16s when Sir Alex Ferguson led United to their first league title in 26 years in 1992-93.
Having been nurtured by esteemed coaches such as Eric Harrison and Pop Robson, the Barnsley-born former defender never made the grade at Old Trafford and was released aged 16.
Paul Heckingbottom credits his two years in Manchester United’s youth team as a key time in his career
After a relatively modest playing career, Heckingbottom is now a Premier League boss and was last night facing his old club for the first time as a manager.
Having been thumped 8-0 by Newcastle in their previous home outing – a club-record defeat – this was a time for the Blades to stand the ground.
Heckingbottom’s men did just that and were given a standing ovation at the break for their high-energy first-half display.
But it is now nine games without a win this season as fears grow that they are doomed for the drop.
Special atmosphere but away travel was tricky
Bramall Lane is the oldest major stadium in the world still hosting professional football and can create a special atmosphere, especially under the lights.
A visit from Manchester United is always guaranteed to stir the blood and the home faithful belted out their anthemic ‘Greasy Chip Butty’ song with gusto beforehand.
The numerous pubs around the stadium were packed beforehand, the 8pm kick-off allowing a few extra gallons of alcohol to slip down willing throats.
But it did provide a major logistical challenge for away fans looking to get back to Manchester by train, with the last train from Sheffield departing at 10.24pm.
James McAtee proves his pedigree but needs to recapture Championship form
James McAtee proved a key figure in Sheffield United’s success last season, scoring nine goals to help them to win automatic promotion.
The highly-rated Manchester City midfielder spent the entire campaign on loan at Bramall Lane before returning on another season-long loan this term.
The Blades are yet to see the best from James McAtee this term but he is highly rated
Pep Guardiola rates the 21-year-old City academy graduate – nicknamed the ‘Salford Silva’ – highly, but he has made a slow start to life in the Premier League at Bramall Lane.
Last night was just his fifth appearance for the Blades and only his fourth start.
Having been a substitute in United’s last outing at Fulham a fortnight ago, McAtee was recalled to the starting line-up and showed some touches of his undoubted class.
For the boyhood City fan, whose dad John was once a useful rugby league scrum-half and played a handful of games for St Helens, it was a big occasion to prove his pedigree and he did not disappoint.
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