Manchester United are through to the next round of the FA Cup but their performance against Watford was not convincing. The Red Devils went into the game needing a great performance after losing to Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made wholesale changes to the team that played against Manchester City in midweek. Only Dean Henderson and Scott McTominay were retained, with Brandon Williams, Eric Bailly, Axel Tuazembe and Alex Telles all coming into the starting line-up.
Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard also started in midfield while Daniel James, Juan Mata and Mason Greenwood led in the attack.
Manchester United opened the scoring after just five minutes, thanks to a thumping header from their skipper on the day McTominay. However, there was very little to celebrate for the rest of the 85 minutes.
Manchester United’s fringe players fail to impress
Aside from McTominay and Alex Telles to some extent, the other members of the Manchester United squad were not impressive. Tuazembe looked nervous throughout and Williams offered very little at right-back.
Van de Beek was decent but a flick to Mata in the first half was his most notable contribution throughout the 90 minutes. Lingard, Mata and James weren’t creative enough Greenwood struggled to impose himself on the game.
In a fixture that some fans expected to be a walkover, Solskjaer was forced to bring on Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to stop Watford from growing further into the match.
The games are coming in thick and fast this year and every manager needs to rotate his team to keep his players fresh and sharp. Solskjaer, though, has rarely rotated his starting XI and yesterday's performance told the whole story.
The fringe players at Manchester United were supposed to stake a claim for a starting place. However, after their performance against Watford, their manager will have no problem sticking with his current starting line-up.
A morale-boosting win for Manchester United against Watford
Manchester United have been on a good run in recent months but their defeat to Manchester City was extremely deflating. It was, therefore, important that they bounced back quickly against Watford in the FA Cup.
As the Reds prepare to face Burnley and Liverpool in the Premier League, they can use progression to the next round of the FA Cup as a morale-booster.
“We’ve had good momentum,” Solskjaer said about the win in the FA Cup, as quoted by Manutd.com. “We started well again after the disappointment against City."
“We bounced back really well with a win and, of course, we want to build momentum again. If you can win two games in a row, you go into the next game confident. Every game in the Premier League is a chance to build some more confidence," added Solskjaer.
As it stands, Manchester United could go into their crucial game against Liverpool as leaders in the Premier League, provided they beat Burnley on Tuesday. It’s going to be a crucial week for the Reds, but they will be going into those games on the back of a win in the FA Cup.Published 11 Jan 2021, 21:52 IST