Manchester United were beaten 4-1 by Watford at Vicarage Road in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were outplayed and outperformed by Watford, who opened the scoring in the 28th minute through Joshua King. Ismaila Sarr doubled the lead before the break. Five minutes into the second half, Donny van de Beek scored his first goal of the season. With United unable to draw level, the continued to struggle and two added time goals from Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis saw United beaten and dejected. Whatever happens from here is on the Glazers. United face Villarreal on Tuesday evening.
United did not start off all that well and looked like they did against Manchester City a fortnight ago. Watford won a penalty in the seventh minute of the match, which was initially missed by Ismaila Sarr but tapped in by Kiko Femenia. However, after some complaints by United the goal was disallowed and the penalty was signalled to be retaken. Harry Maguire was vocal about that as the offside of Femenia was after the penalty was taken, so it should be offside, but the penalty was retaken with David De Gea making the save again. United looked abject in defence once again and that is worrying at this stage in Solskjaer’s management.
In the 28th minute of the match, former United academy graduate Joshua King opened the scoring for Watford, assisted by Emmanuel Dennis. It was a good goal for the striker, who punished De Gea from close-range to score against his former club. United needed to hit the ground running now, but they would not do that just yet. Solskjaer looked like he did not care in the dug out, which is easy to say as it was a few seconds of the camera looking at him. One things is for sure, this United side have some major problems and it is not making very pleasant viewing for the supporters of the club. The so-called fans on Twitter will love it though.
Just before the half time break, Sarr doubled Watford’s lead with Femenia assisting. United were 2-0 down and looked dejected. The manager would need to make changes during the break. There was a feeling in me that United would not come back from this and that it could get worse. At the start of the second half, Solskjaer brought on Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek for Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay, who was on a yellow card from the first half of the match. Within five minutes, the Dutchman, assisted by Cristiano Ronaldo, had a goal back for United which was followed by a period of good play by United.
United did not get anything else from a period of pressure and the longer they were behind, the further they would fall. This was a very poor performance for United. Maguire was booked in the 62nd minute for a challenge, which was deserved as United tried to find their way back. They did manage to get level but the goal was ruled out for offside – which was just United’s luck. Solskjaer needed to get this side playing like they had been for him at times over the last three years, well almost. That was not happening though. Just seven minutes after his first booking, Maguire was send of after receiving a second yellow card.
This was a new low for United. To be in this position against Watford, who have been poor this season and newly promoted after a season in the Championship, was not good enough. Manchester United which this squad should be better than they were last season but it seems clear that certain players have downed tools, which is never a good look for these supposedly professional players. To hang a manager out to dry like this is something that will result in pay back for them at some point in the future. The players should be responsible for this abject display just as much as the manager. But if they want a new manager, they should get one.
With ten minutes left to play, United still needed a goal to draw level and possible share the spoils, which was better than losing but not what anyone wanted. It still was not happening for United. Diogo Dalot replaced Luke Shaw in the 85th minute but United still did not get anything from the match. In added time, a fourth substitution with Jesse Lingard replacing Jadon Sancho, who had a good performance at times, gave United one last chance which did not pay off. Joan Pedro scored a third for Watford in the second minute of added time with Emmanuel Dennis scoring in the sixth minute of added time to seal the rampant victory.
It is unknown whether Solskjaer will be given more time by the club, but at this time, it seems that nothing is ever going to work as something is clearly happening with the players. United will face Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening, the penultimate match of the group stages with United needing three points to command the group and reach the knockout stages of the competition. Next Sunday, they will face top of the Premier League Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which is another daunting match in such a busy week, especially with the players that are out injured and with Maguire clearly suspended for that match.
Goals: Joshua King 28′, Ismaila Sarr 44′, Joao Pedro 90+2′, Emmanuel Dennis 90+6′; Donny van de Beek 50′
Assists: Emmanuel Dennis 28′, 90+2′, Kiko Femenia 44′, Ben Foster 90+6′; Cristiano Ronaldo 50′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw (Dalot 85′); Matic, McTominay (Van de Beek 46′); Sancho (Lingard 90+1′), Fernandes, Rashford (Martial 46′); Ronaldo
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Bailly, Telles; Mata, Fred
Bookings: Scott McTominay 19′, Harry Maguire 62′, 69′ s/o
Written by John Walker