The Blades went into the game rooted to the bottom of table, while a win would have sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils top – but goals from Kean Bryan and Oliver Burke either side of a Harry Maguire header earned the visitors just their second win of the Premier League season.
United missed out on the chance to retake top spot from rivals Man City, and the result will raise question marks as to whether this side has the mentality needed for a genuine title challenge.
If United were expected to lay down a title marker following Man City’s 5-0 win at West Brom to go top of the table on Tuesday night, the message didn’t get through to Solskjaer’s starting XI.
United turned in one of their worst first-half performances of the season as the Blades took a deserved lead into half-time – though there was an element of controversy about the officiating.
John Fleck fired over a corner and Kean Bryan rose to glance home in the 23rd minute as Solskjaer’s set piece problems reared their head again, though David de Gea felt he had been fouled in the build-up.
Martial then thought he had levelled on the half-hour mark but Maguire was adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale in the build up to the French striker finding the net.
Solskjaer didn’t make any half-time changes as he trusted the same XI to fix the mess they created, but once again their passing was sloppy and they lacked conviction.
United needed a leader to step up, and captain Maguire duly delivered with a powerful header after 63 minutes, turning home an Alex Telles corner.
However, there was another shock in store as sub Burke fired an effort at goal after United failed to clear their lines, and Axel Tuanzebe deflected the ball in off the bar.