Liverpool thumped United 4-0 at Anfield, having pummeled them 5-0 at Old Trafford in October, in what was United’s ninth Premier League defeat of the season.
Captain Harry Maguire attempted to gee up his teammates before kick-off but was heavily culpable for United’s surrender and Fernandes spoke to broadcasters Sky Sports.
United interim manager Ralf Rangnick was critical in his assessment of United’s performance, accusing the players of being ‘afraid to be outplayed’. Rangnick admitted he was as blunt with the players kin the dressing room as he was in his post-match press conference.
“I think so, yes,” Rangnick replied when asked if the players were self-critical. “We had a conversation in the locker room right now where Bruno also said something towards the team and I said something.
“In the end, right now it doesn’t help. We have to hope for some injured players coming back for Saturday and then just take it game-by-game. I don’t think it helps to speculate about our chances of the top four after a performance like the one today.
“What I tell them in the locker room stays there, obviously. But in general, it is similar to what I say now. We were just not up to it in the first-half, we didn’t win a single second ball in most of the first-ball situations we were just spectators, onlookers. If you play like that against a team like Liverpool it’s difficult.
“If you cannot get hold of the ball, if you cannot put a little bit of pressure against a team like Liverpool… we just didn’t attack them, we didn’t dare to attack them, it almost looked as if they were afraid to be outplayed.”
Marlon Harewood delivers his verdict on Nottingham Forest’s play-off victory over Sheffield United
Nottingham Forest have booked their spot at Wembley Stadium for the first time since 1992 and will be favourites to win promotion to the Premier League.
The Reds suffered a very emotionally draining 2-1 loss in the second leg against Sheffield United, but came through via a penalty shoot-out and will fancy their chances of overcoming Huddersfield Town at the final hurdle.
Former Nottingham Forest striker Marlon Harewood had his say on the nerve-shredding events of Tuesday evening when he spoke to BETDAQ.
He said: “Dramatic is the word to describe that victory.
“Forest let themselves go, but they just about did enough to get the result.
“On the day Sheffield United were the better team.
“It was good that Forest went to their place first and did the job that they needed to ultimately get themselves into the penalty shootout.
“Some of the qualities of the Forest keeper Brice Samba shone through, showing how good he is.
“He saved Forest with two great penalty saves at the beginning of the shootout to give them a head start to get them through to the next stage.”
The Reds were left feeling very proud and grateful for their performance in the first leg, winning 2-1 at Bramall Lane, as without that they would have been knocked out on their home patch.
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Sometimes a result like that, and the way it came about, can galvanise the group and bring them closer together, despite not hitting the heights of the last few months in terms of their performance levels.
Brennan Johnson opened the scoring in the first half a little against the run of play, to give the Reds a two-goal cushion.
Some brilliant play to the right side of the Forest 18-yard box from Sander Berge and then George Baldock, brought about the Blades’ second half finishes, and Forest were the team holding on for penalties.
The Terriers may well target the left hand side of the Forest backline in the final, with Sorba Thomas set to be fit to start the game for the underdogs.
Paul Heckingbottom reveals what happened between him and Djed Spence during Sheffield United’s clash with Nottingham Forest
Sheffield United travelled to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night for the second leg of their play-off semi-final.
Despite United putting up a great fight to take the game to extra time and then penalties, it was Forest who progressed to the final after Brice Samba saved the penalties of Oliver Norwood, John Fleck and Morgan Gibbs-White.
It was an eventful night all round as Paul Heckingbottom received a yellow card after a coming together with on-loan Forest player Djed Spence.
The Blades boss felt the opposition player was taking too long with a throw in and gave the ball to back to him with a bit of force which caused a coming together between both squads on the touchline.
After the game, Heckingbottom spoke about the incident telling Yorkshire Live: “They’re my players. Some of them are nearly as old as me, but they will be boys and you will protect them like family.
“I won’t have anyone taking the mickey. It’s my fault and a yellow card without a doubt. I thought Michael and his team of officials were excellent, they were really good. I did my bit to highlight we are not having a team run a game against us and I thought Michael and his staff were very good after that.
“Gamesmanship, whatever you want to call it, but not against my team. Regardless of what happened there was no way we were going out without a fight.
“Sometimes you need to do it and defend your players. We needed that fight, we needed a spark and intensity. I don’t want to be disrespectful to Forest, I really don’t, because credit to them and congratulations to them they have got to the final. But we were the better team, we had the better players. I wanted us to show that and I thought we did.”
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In a game like this one, there was always going to be tension between the two sides and for Paul Heckingbottom he just got a bit frustrated with the way he felt Spence was wasting his side’s time.
He has come out and held his hands up that the yellow card for him was deserved but ultimately he felt it was worth it for the message it sent his team that they had to fight.
The Blades certainly did do that and despite being 1-0 down going into half-time, they made sure they fought back in the second half which took the game to the very end.