SHEFFIELD, England : On a solemn day for Manchester United after the death of Bobby Charlton, manager Erik ten Hag was pleased his team could honour one of the club’s greatest players with a victory on Saturday.
Manchester United beat Sheffield United 2-1 to climb to eighth in the Premier League table.
“Fantastic, of course we have to say our big goodbye remembering Bobby Charlton because what he did was magnificent,” Ten Hag said.
“We spoke about this before the game, he was outstanding not only on the pitch but also off the pitch. To credit it and reward his big personality, we did it with a win and we did it in a decent way.”
When Diogo Dalot scored the 77th-minute winner with a brilliant strike from 25 yards out, the Manchester fans in the away end rose to their feet chanting “There’s only one Bobby Charlton!”
“When we came to the game we wanted to contribute a little more. I felt with the win we gave a little bit of joy on a sad day,” Dalot told Sky Sports.
“This is the contribution we could have today and give to the family. We are one family at United.”
Manchester United and Sheffield United players came out in black armbands at Bramall lane after news of the death of Charlton at 86, and fans held up signs and jerseys bearing his name.
Defender Harry Maguire said hearing about Charlton’s death had dampened the mood during the team’s game preparations.
“Sir Bobby came into the dressing-room a lot and he lit the place up,” Maguire said. “He is an absolute legend of the club. We are delighted to win the game but this is more than football and our thoughts are with his family.
“He’d always come in if we won or lost but his presence was really felt in the dressing-room. We will miss him, the world will miss him.”
United captain Bruno Fernandes carried out a wreath and placed it on the Bramall Lane pitch during pre-game introductions, with a tribute reading “In loving memory of Sir Bobby Charlton, a great player and even greater man. With deepest gratitude for your service, from everyone at Manchester United.”
There were a smattering of boos from Sheffield United fans when Charlton’s death was announced, and a minute’s silence for both Charlton and those affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza turned into a minute of applause.
Ten Hag said the news hit the team hard.
“Our thoughts are with his family especially his wife Lady Norma, his children, his grandchildren,” the manager said.
“I think with his passing, a legend, a giant passing away, his achievements are so immense and huge, not only in England but global.
“(What) he achieved, it’s incredible, all those games, his titles, trophies … and despite all his trophies and games, he was so humble and a big personality, he was an example for all of us.”
Charlton was a key figure in England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team, playing alongside his brother Jack, and he made 758 appearances for United, scoring 249 goals.
“It’s not only Manchester United who will miss him,” said Sheffield manager Paul Heckingbottom. “English football and football around the world will be remembering stories about him and games of his that they have seen over the next few days.”
Manchester United plan to have a book of condolence open for fans at their stadium on Sunday.