Manchester United’s push for the top four in the Premier League suffered a huge blow Sunday afternoon as they were beaten 2-0 by Watford at Vicarage Road.
The underwhelming visitors couldn’t really break through the relegation strugglers in the first half, and it didn’t take long for the Hornets to take the lead in the second, Ismaila Sarr opening the scoring following a poor mistake from David De Gea. Troy Deeney made it two within a matter of minutes after Aaron Wan-Bissaka gave away a poor penalty on a dreadful day for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
There were occasions when United strung together some nice passes in and around the box, and whenever they were able to calm things down and play it simple, Watford seemed to get a bit more frustrated which drew them into fouls. They largely played the possession game well, too, which opened up the game more and gave them room to try and build up from the back.
The gaps through the back could’ve been seen from space, and there were points in which United were just being bullied off the ball. There was a real lethargic atmosphere throughout the core of the squad which was evident from the first minute until the very last, and when it came to tracking opponents, it was like watching a League Two team trying to compete with a top flight side.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stuck to his guns with the lineup, trusting players who he believes could guide United towards a brighter future. In short: It didn’t pay off. As a result of the 4-2-3-1 formation, United really struggled to break down the flanks and stretch the game, and as the minutes ticked by, both the substitutions and leadership abilities of the Norwegian came into question.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 4 — Had a few bright moments in the first half but that all came crashing down when he made a huge blunder for the first goal. Hard to fault him not saving Troy Deeney’s penalty.
DF Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 4 — Left way too much space down that right side and gave away a really silly penalty in what was probably his worst Manchester United performance yet.
DF Victor Lindelof, 5 — Needs to stop lingering out from the back and trying to do too much. Seemed to be the target of Watford’s attacks and didn’t deal with it well, coming across as clumsy more than anything else.
DF Harry Maguire, 5 — Feels like he’s a step or two off the pace of the game at all times. Lacks confidence and, for the most part, looks quite lazy.
DF Luke Shaw, 5 — Enjoys a burst of electricity from time to time but follows that up with a distinct inability to maintain a high pace for 90 minutes.
MF Scott McTominay, 5 — What all over the place in terms of his positional play, and whenever he was on the ball, he was incredibly cheap in giving the ball away.
MF Fred, 6 — Plays the hot-and-cold game every week, going from looking solid one week to look like he’s completely out of his depth the next.
MF Daniel James, 5 — Barely heard his name mentioned throughout the game and went missing in key positions when United needed him the most.
MF Jesse Lingard, 4 — Fell victim to several challenges under pressure and missed United’s best chance of the game with sloppy play.
FW Marcus Rashford, 6 — Was hungry and active but couldn’t find his rhythm, and could do with swapping with Martial on the left.
FW Anthony Martial, 6 — The Frenchman was at the heart of some nice passages of play but those moments were too few and far between.
MF Paul Pogba, 6 — Pieced things together in the middle of the park more so than most of the Red Devils and had one chance that was well-saved by Ben Foster.
MF Juan Mata, N/R — Wasn’t really able to influence the pattern or pace of the game in the limited time he had on the pitch.
FW Mason Greenwood, 6 — Tried to work himself into strong positions up top, but it was too little, too late. Went high with lob attempt that could have pulled United within one.