Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted earlier this week that he would have to turn to the ‘dark side’ of football in order to secure a result against lowly Watford if his side were to progress in the league and stop their plummet. Solskjaer was referring to defending and had focussed on that side of his team’s game in training this week, but after just 28 minutes at Vicarage Road the Norwegian’s plans were unravelled as they conceded yet another goal.
Solskjaer’s men had taken just four points from their previous six games in the league prior to the visit to Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.
The Norwegian’s position as United boss had become extremely precarious with the side not performing to anywhere near the demands that chiefs and fans expect.
A seemingly easier fixture against Watford gave Solskjaer a chance to redeem himself after a tough spell in the league.
United’s defending had been a problem in recent weeks, and Solskjaer himself admitted that his side needed to look to the ‘dark side’ of football if they were to win.
But after conceding a penalty, a disallowed goal and the opener – all within the space of half an hour – at Watford, it appears Solskjaer’s position looks even harder to scramble out of as it left United with just two clean sheets in their last 25 matches.
“We have gone games now where we have conceded chances and we can’t concede easy chances against any team,” he said prior to the game.
“We are playing against a Watford team that are well-organised, very good at counter-attacking, very good at set-plays.
“So, focusing on this game, of course you’ve always got to make sure your defending is right.
“That’s probably the dark side of football that you know you have to work on, and we have put lots of things right.”
United were jittering after just 11 minutes after the home side were awarded a penalty.
The initial shot was missed, with a rebound tucked home by Kiko Femeni to seemingly put Watford one-nil up.
However, a retake was ordered because of an encroachment. Ismaila Sarr stepped up but missed his spot-kick to give United a reprieve.
Solskjaer’s men didn’t make the most of their fortune and allowed Watford to take the lead after some more poor defending as Josh King netted the opener.
Sarr atoned for his earlier miss by doubling Watford’s lead before the break. Donny van de Beek made an instant impact off the bench to halve the deficit early in the second half but things got worse for United as Harry Maguire was dismissed shortly after the hour mark.