Bruno Fernandes says Manchester United’s title challenge ended when they lost to Sheffield United.
The Blades secured a shock 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in January. It is one of only six wins for them in the Premier League this season and only one of two away from home.
The South Yorkshire side have been relegated, while Man United will end 2020/21 in second position behind Manchester City.
Yet according to Fernandes, it was defeat to the Blades that stopped the Red Devils beating their rivals to the trophy,
“We realised this year that playing against teams fighting against relegation can be more tricky than we thought,” the midfielder told ESPN.
“We lost four points when we were still in first place against Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion, and it was four points that made the difference for City to come close and overtake us as well.
“This made us understand that we have to be focused and realise that all the matches are going to be tough and important for us to keep fighting for titles. That’s where we failed, especially in January, which was our worst moment when we could have boosted our advantage over City, which didn’t happen.”
Bruno Fernandes may be right, but it’s little consolation
When the Blades left Old Trafford with all three points on January 27, there was a glimmer of hope.
Even at that stage of the campaign – just over halfway – relegation looked to be almost certain.
Despite beating Man United, they were 10 points off safety. Yet heading into the final game of the season on Sunday, that gap has extended to 19 points.
The Blades have gone down with barely a whimper – equalling the record for the earliest Premier League relegation in the process.
This coming just 12 months after impressing many in the top flight with a ninth place finish in their first campaign in the division in 12 years.
That night in Manchester may be one of the few positives this term. It may have stopped a mighty footballing juggernaut mounting a title challenge. But it was simply one bright spot in a season full of disappointment.