Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has refused to blame David De Gea for Manchester United’s defeat to Watford on Sunday afternoon.
De Gea’s howler put the rock-bottom Hornets on course for a remarkable result as United endured their most chastening loss of the season.
Nigel Pearson’s first home match was a free hit heading into Christmas, with the Hornets nine points off safety before kick-off and already staring down the barrel of relegation.
Yet Watford’s survival hopes received an unlikely shot in the arm on Sunday as United goalkeeper De Gea somehow let in Ismaila Sarr’s shot before Troy Deeney quickly scored a penalty foolishly given away by Aaron Wan-Bissaka in a vital 2-0 win.
Solskjaer’s side were out-fought and out-thought in Hertfordshire, where a forgettable first half was followed by a second period to remember for the Hornets.
However, the Norwegian told talkSPORT he felt the game was lost after a poor first half performance, rather than individual mistakes.
“In quick succession, anyone can make a mistake,” he said. “There’s two mistakes from us and we gifted them two goals.
“But the first half; that’s where, for me, it went wrong. We never started with any tempo, intensity, urgency.
“So the first half was the biggest disappointment because we never put pressure on them.
“We played against a team at the bottom of the league and you need to make them suffer. We came into the game confident.
“We’ve done very well lately, played some good games, and we should be more on the front foot.”
Perhaps the only positive to take from the game was the return of Paul Pogba who, after almost three months out with an ankle injury, took his place on the bench at Vicarage Road.
And Solskjaer admitted he was impressed with what he saw from the World Cup winner, despite mounting speculation about his future.
“That was the only plus, I have to say,” Solskjaer added. “Paul’s half an hour was really good.
“He is a quality player; he’s been working really hard to get back. He’s fit, he’s leaner and he created chances.
“He showed urgency and quality.”