SHAW: ‘THIS JUST ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH’
CITY are possibly responsible for United resisting another pre-Christmas managerial change.
One has to wonder what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s approval ratings would have been without the wins over the Blues and Tottenham, for his Reds appear to be all big-game nous and small-time mentality.
This was the new nadir of the season, if not Solskjaer’s year-long reign. This was more egregious than the surrender at West Ham and nothingness at Newcastle.
Whenever London’s calling, a meltdown is expected from this United side.
Watford were winless at home in the Premier League and had mustered five goals before their most obliging opponents rocked up.
That they inflicted a fifth league defeat on United was utterly unsurprising and in keeping with a squad their manager regularly over-estimates.
Solskjaer fatefully decided to name an unchanged side that eked out only a draw against relegation battlers against more relegation battlers.
Five times Solskjaer has named an unchanged league XI this season and five times United have failed to win – drawing with Everton and losing at Crystal Palace, West Ham, Bournemouth and now Watford. The manager allowed the pattern to continue and the complacency permeated through his pitiful players.
Such elementary errors pose more questions about the manager’s suitability to make the Reds competitive again.
For they have squandered 15 points against the league’s bottom seven now and had to turn to Paul Pogba ahead of schedule. Whatever the Frenchman’s flaws, he cannot be blamed for angling to leave a club that is in a much worse state than when he rejoined in 2016. He was the best of an abysmal bunch following his 64th-minute introduction and will walk back into the starting XI on Boxing Day.
United invested £130m in their defence in the summer and have now gone 13 league fixtures without a clean sheet.
Harry Maguire needs to step up literally - to supplement attacks and govern as a United captain should, Luke Shaw still has to be told where to move by the manager nearly three years after Jose Mourinho used his brain and Shaw’s body. David de Gea and Victor Lindelof, rewarded new contracts in September, have regressed. Aaron Wan-Bissaka cracked with a mistimed slide that gifted Watford a morale-crushing
penalty. De Gea’s annus horribilis continued with a clanger of the like that, prior to 2019, belonged to his first season.
His hologram hands that enabled Ismaila Sarr to put Watford ahead is enough of a reason for his place to no longer be assured with an able deputy in Sergio Romero available.
It was such a portentous day the United team coach arrived so late for another London matchday Pogba’s return to the 18 was confirmed before he had disembarked the coach.
Martyn Pert, one of Solskjaer’s coaching lieutenants, arrived ahead of the squad, though it is unclear whether he had had enough of the traffic and concluded his route by foot, a la Mourinho.
Present press officers were tasked with submitting the team amid the late arrival. However illogical it was to retain the side that was held by relegation battlers
Such elementary errors pose more questions about the manager’s suitability to make the Reds competitive again
Everton, it was also logical and a reflection of the limitations in a squad following another unfulfilling summer transfer window. Andreas Pereira performed against a
League Two team in midweek and Juan
Mata is almost exclusively a cup player these days.
Sources at United insist there is a high possibility they could go without recruiting anyone in January.
Fail to do that and they may have to recruit a new manager, though they would not require a needless long list of 804 candidates.
Embarrassingly for United, they appear to have called off their search for a new left-back just as it has become a problem position again.
Solskjaer has rarely looked so vexed as he did in the first half. He had to instruct Scott McTominay to rein in his overhit passing and offered an indignant shrug at Maguire, again failing to step up to supplement attacks. Jesse Lingard dug out Fred, but would dig a hole for himself later
Lingard, one of the contentious selections, should have vindicated the faith at a ground where he earned the moniker ‘Messi Lingard’ two years ago.
Instead, his one-on-one dink looped onto the top of Ben Foster’s net in a an abject first half.
The pilloried Cats film is not the only spectacle spectators wish they could have unseen this week. For United supporters, it was the full running time.
Mason Greenwood’s warm-up coincided with the restart yet it was Watford who went on the attack and Sarr’s harmless looping strike passed the hands of De Gea.
Four minutes later, Troy Deeney converted a fourth penalty against United in six seasons at Vicarage Road after Wan-Bissaka overestimated his long legs.
Pogba and Marcus Rashford battled more than most, the former throwing his gloves to the crowd at full time.
He applauded the United supporters and they did likewise. His approval ratings are high again. Solskjaer’s are not.
Paul Pogba back in action for United
WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER Reds’ Aaron 22: David Wan-Bissaka De Gea of brings down Ismaila Sarr for Watford’s penalty