Ole Gunnar Solskjær admitted Manchester United were “outfought” against Watford and let their fans down but, despite their latest chastening defeat in a lengthening line, insisted he is able to turn their fortunes around.
A disastrous outing at Vicarage Road brought a fourth defeat in five league games, with United conceding 15 goals in that time, and a performance David de Gea described as “embarrassing”. Solskjær was booed by United fans, some of whom also remonstrated with Bruno Fernandes, at full time and his tenure appears to be hanging by a thread.
“I always have belief in myself,” he said. “Of course at the moment it’s a difficult time for us. I can trust every single one out there to give their all. The staff are fantastic, but the results are difficult. I believe we can turn this around.
“Watford away from home, you need to give them a harder time than we did. They outfought us, we allowed them to put the ball in our box too easily. There are so many things that can go wrong in football and too many did in the first half.”
United were 2-0 down by half-time but their misery was compounded by late goals from João Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis, prompting a furious reaction from behind De Gea’s goal. “I understand fans who follow the club through thick and thin,” Solskjær said. “We’ve had a hard time since Sir Alex [Ferguson] left and the fans who’ve been with us have been unbelievable. The signings this summer raised expectations, we hoped to kick on and at the moment we can’t seem to find our form.”
Solskjær said the first half was “the worst we’ve played” and told of the devastation in his dressing room. “The boys are in a terrible place in their heads now,” he said. “We have let ourselves down and the fans down. It’s hard to stand here and explain that but that’s football and we have to take the flak for it.”
De Gea, who saved a twice-taken penalty from Ismaïla Sarr early on, could not hide his disappointment. “It was embarrassing, the way we played today,” he said. “The first half was very poor, it’s not acceptable for this club and the level of players that we have. It’s another nightmare. There’s been some difficulties but I don’t really know what to say.
“I have been in difficult moments with this club but we are in a difficult situation. We don’t know what to do with the ball, we are conceding a lot of goals. It’s a horrible moment.”
A delighted Claudio Ranieri said: “In the first half we were amazing.” His side climbed to 16th, four points clear of the relegation zone.