Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said there were “no excuses” after Manchester United collapsed to a humiliating 2-0 defeat against Premier League bottom side Watford on Sunday following a David de Gea howler.
The chastening pre-Christmas loss comes after a six-match unbeaten spell that included morale-boosting wins against Tottenham and Manchester City and leaves United languishing in eighth place in the Premier League.
Not even the returning Paul Pogba could save his misfiring team, who again struggled to impose themselves against one of the league’s lesser lights.
The key moment came in the 50th minute when De Gea somehow allowed a tame effort from Ismaila Sarr to creep through his hands and in at the near post.
Watford doubled their lead four minutes later when Troy Deeney fired home from the penalty spot after the otherwise impressive Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought down Sarr with a misjudged sliding tackle.
“I’m very disappointed because we have to get more points against teams, like today,” said Solskjaer.
“I’m sure they were low in confidence because they must be when you’re bottom of the table.
“We were high in confidence because we’ve done well lately but it just wasn’t there. There was no intent or urgency to make us deserve to win the game.”
“There’s no excuses at all,” he added. “We prepared well and there’s nothing I can put my finger on.”
Nigel Pearson coaxed a battling performance from Watford in his first home game in charge and they deservedly won just their second league match of the season to give themselves hope of survival.
But for United it was another story of failing to make the most of their domination of possession.
Under Solskjaer, they have won 73 percent of the Premier League games in which they have had less possession than their opponents, compared to just 36 percent when they have enjoyed more.
There was no hint of the drama to come in a largely uneventful first half.
Anthony Martial scuffed a shot wide as United, backed by vocal away support, enjoyed the bulk of early possession while Watford looked a threat when they came forward.
The away side looked certain to take the lead in the 34th minute when Jesse Lingard was put through on goal by Martial but the midfielder’s chip landed on the roof of Ben Foster’s net.
– Watford stun United –
The game slipped from United’s grasp early in the second half.
Will Hughes sent a free kick into the area and the ball fell to Sarr, who did not hit it cleanly but somehow the ball wriggled through De Gea’s gloves.
United did not properly recover before Wan-Bissaka’s foul enabled Deeney to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot.
Solskjaer threw on Mason Greenwood, Pogba and Juan Mata in a desperate search for some inspiration.
Foster denied Pogba and Marcus Rashford late on as Watford claimed a first home win of the season to move level with Norwich City in 19th on 12 points — still six points from safety.
“It was important after last week’s performance at Liverpool that we tried to emulate the positive aspects,” said Pearson, whose side impressed despite losing 2-0 at Anfield.
“I didn’t think we played quite as well as we did last week but the work ethic of the team was exceptionally good today,” he added.