Despite going two goals up at Old Trafford, Nottingham Forest were defeated 3-2 by Manchester United in a game decided by controversial refereeing decisions. Here’s what the national newspapers had to say
Manchester United continue to lurch and flail through this early phase of the season. A victory from two-nil down appears admirably scrapped for but they should never have allowed this deficit four minutes in.
It points to a fragility that will concern the manager and is a puzzle as Erik ten Hag had all of last season to ensure his side do not resemble a bunch of strangers who may find the right wavelength to prosper or may not. On this occasion they did – just about. The winner came from the one footballer Ten Hag can rely on – Bruno Fernandes, whose 76th-minute penalty beat Matt Turner to the goalkeeper’s right and came after Marcus Rashford claimed the kick by drawing Danilo into a clumsy foul on the right of his area.
Fernandes was effervescent throughout. An earlier run on to Casemiro’s raking pass caused Joe Worrall to yank United’s captain down and Nottingham Forest’s leader was sent off, the score then 2-2.
It ended with a protest, a sit-in and a singalong, with a hard core of around a thousand supporters staying behind in a corner of the Stretford End to clap and chant that they want the Glazer family to relinquish ownership of Manchester United. They batted yellow and green balloons and grew in number and in volume.
Fans walked round from other parts of Old Trafford to join them. Thirty minutes after it began, the throng had swelled to around 5,000 and the demo was going stronger than ever. One song conveyed the message being relayed to Florida in a pithy Mancunian way: “Sell United and f*** off home.”
A significant section of the faithful want this football club to change but, of course, not in every way. During the match itself they were treated to an old Old Trafford trope, and one they love. The colourful, seat-of-the-pants, thunder-and-chaos United comeback.
Around 5,000 Manchester United supporters staged a “sit in” after the game in the latest protest against the Glazer family’s ownership at Old Trafford.
Beforehand, United’s players had threatened to lay down and roll over for Nottingham Forest before recovering from their worst-ever start to a Premier League match to better resemble the side that have gone a year unbeaten at home in domestic competition.
Bruno Fernandes’ penalty, soon after Forest had been reduced to 10 men following Joe Worrall’s red card, completed a dizzying comeback. After an underwhelming start to the season and another bruising week in the wake of the Mason Greenwood saga, three precious points here were most welcome for United’s manager, even if there was as much to cause him unease as to please.
If the Manchester United captaincy used to be the preserve of the talismanic, at times in recent seasons the mantle has rested instead with the declining, the injured and the substitutes. There were reasons that Erik ten Hag promoted Bruno Fernandes from the vice-captain with the armband, ending his regency by giving him the crown, and they stretched beyond demoting Harry Maguire.
When United required leadership, when a troubled week threatened to have a terrible end, when a slow start to the season looked like it could become shocking, Fernandes offered an illustration of his inspiration. United were two goals behind inside four minutes to Nottingham Forest. If four moments ultimately secured victory, Fernandes was pivotal in each.
Manchester United brought an end to a troubled week with the curious combination of a rousing comeback and a bitter protest at Old Trafford.
The fans applauded the players off after their 3-2 victory over 10-man Nottingham Forest even as they yelled their disgust for the Glazer family that owns the club and prepared for an hour-long protest inside the ground.
That is the way it is at United these days: no one knows whether to laugh or cry.
This is a club in limbo, run by a regime that has proven again with its craven, confused, cursed handling of the Mason Greenwood affair that it does not believe in anything except money and damage-limitation.
This is a club that is stuck in a cycle of taking one step forward and one step back, a club whose progress under Erik ten Hag last season is in danger of stalling due to a confused transfer strategy this season.
On the day of a sit-in protest, Manchester United had everyone out of their seats for all the right and wrong reasons.
One down after 86 seconds, two behind inside four minutes, United were taking their early season stutter to new lows – and justifying further the anger of fans planning their post-match demonstration against the club’s owners.
At that point, Sir Alex Ferguson must have wished he had been at York racecourse celebrating the win of his horse, Spirit Dancer.
But at the end they were dancing in the stands of Old Trafford to celebrate the kind of dramatic comeback victory that was their great manager’s stock in trade.