Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Getty Images)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described the scheduling of Manchester United’s match against Everton on Saturday as an “absolute joke” as Chelsea pummelled Sheffield United 4-1 to climb to third in the Premier League.
United eased the pressure on their under-fire manager with a 3-1 win in the early kick-off at Goodison Park but the Norwegian vented his fury at league chiefs after picking up fresh injuries.
WRAP | English Premier League
Crystal Palace beat Leeds 4-1 to make it three defeats in four for Marcelo Bielsa’s men before Frank Lampard’s Chelsea came from behind thump Sheffield United by the same scoreline.
The main focus on Saturday was on whether United could bounce back after successive defeats, which raised fresh doubts over Solskjaer’s position at the club.
United only returned from their embarrassing Champions League loss against Istanbul Basaksehir in the early hours of Thursday yet had to kick off at Goodison Park at 12:30 pm on Saturday.
Bruno Fernandes scored twice and new signing Edinson Cavani opened his account as United came from behind to beat the early-season pacesetters.
But Solskjaer blamed the quick turnaround for injuries to Luke Shaw (hamstring), Victor Lindelof (back) and Marcus Rashford (shoulder).
“How can you expect players to perform to the best of their ability when you send them out at 12:30? Absolute joke,” he said.
“Our players were set up to fail today with the schedule,” he added. “I pushed my club to really fight the kick-off time on this one to give us at least half a chance but it was quashed.”
United, who started the match a lowly 15th in the table, showed grit and style as they recovered from going behind to a Bernard goal in the 19th minute.
Fernandes was the standout player for the 20-times champions, thriving in a creative midfield role in the absence of the benched Paul Pogba.
The Portuguese powered a header from a Luke Shaw cross past a flailing Jordan Pickford and scored again when an intended cross for Rashford was missed by the England international and the ball crept in off the far post.
Former Paris Saint-Germain striker Cavani made the points safe with a goal deep into stoppage time.
The victory at the home of Carlo Ancelotti’s team was United’s seventh straight Premier League away win — in sharp contrast to their woeful home form.
Everton, who topped the Premier League table earlier this season, have now suffered three consecutive league defeats.
Chelsea have hit their stride after their expensive summer rebuild and are now just one point behind Southampton and Liverpool, who play Manchester City on Sunday.
Lampard’s team, now unbeaten in six Premier League matches, went behind early at Stamford Bridge when David McGoldrick’s neat flick put Sheffield United in front.
But they hit back quickly, with England forward Tammy Abraham slotting home from Mateo Kovacic’s cutback, and Ben Chilwell put Chelsea in front just past the half-hour.
Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva bagged his first Chelsea goal to put the Blues 3-1 up before Timo Werner blasted past Aaron Ramsdale to put the home side in total control.
“We are third,” a delighted Lampard told Sky Sports. “The players are the ones who deliver and deserve that first credit. They were amazing, all of them today. The balance of the team was good and it’s nice to see. We must continue. I really enjoyed watching it but I know how football is.”
Leeds’ fine start to their first top-flight season after a 16-year absence is fading fast as they conceded four for the second time in a week at Crystal Palace.
Goals from Scott Dann and Eberechi Eze gave Palace a 2-0 lead before Patrick Bamford pulled one back. But an own goal from Leeds winger Helder Costa restored the home side’s two-goal cushion and Jordan Ayew completed the rout in the second half.
There was late drama as West Ham beat Fulham 1-0 at the London Stadium.
Tomas Soucek scored the only goal in stoppage time, but the Hammers were grateful to a shocking penalty miss from Ademola Lookman with the last kick of the game to take all three points.
Lookman tried a ‘Panenka’ but scuffed his shot and Lukasz Fabianski had time to get back to his feet and save.