Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that he did not expect his side’s fast start against Watford, which he admitted ultimately harmed their progress.
Scott McTominay’s fifth-minute goal at Old Trafford proved enough as United reached the FA Cup fourth round.
But after the bright start in Saturday’s clash, the Red Devils began to look sluggish. Indeed, the nine players brought into the side endured a lack of fluency and an unconvincing display.
“Very happy to get through,” Solskjaer told his post-match press conference (via the PA News Agency). “We started very brightly.
“I expected it to be other way round – that we needed 15-20 minutes to get going and find our rhythm.
“But after a very good start we lost our shape, we lost too many balls.
“We lost it easily. It was like we started making difficult decisions to try and complicate things and maybe show the manager that ‘I want to play in the next game’.
“I know they’re good players so they didn’t have to do that, but we’re through. That’s the main thing.”
Donny Van De Beek, Brandon Williams and Jesse Lingard were among the alterations. Indeed, Dean Henderson and McTominay were the only players to retain a starting spot from the Manchester City loss on Wednesday.
The latter proved the difference on Saturday evening, when leading United out as captain for the first time.
Solskjaer lauds McTominay
“He’s got great character, good attitude,” Solskjaer said of academy graduate McTominay. “He comes in every day, does the right things, lives his life properly, wants to be the best he can be and he’s not afraid to be vocal.
“He always, always goes out there to give his best. Never shirks a tackle. Nothing.
“He’s got everything a leader has to have, so I just wanted to test him today how he reacted because he always done that anyway.
“But I gave him the armband to see if there was any change in him but luckily there wasn’t.”
United return to action on Tuesday, when they face Burnley in their Premier League game in hand. What’s more, they can go top above Liverpool ahead of next Sunday’s clash with the Reds at Anfield.