Paul Pogba reverts to form under Jose Mourinho but Man Utd rescue Ole Gunnar Solskjaer party

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IT WAS a party that threatened to fall flat.

But in the end Ole Solskjaer’s coronation as permanent boss was celebrated with a win.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was celebrated with a huge banner at Old Trafford
Getty – Contributor

It had been a poor first half in particular from Manchester United up until Marcus Rashford’s opener in the 28th minute.

Paul Pogba was back to the Pogba under Jose Mourinho, as were Ander Herrera and Juan Mata.

You have to wonder with the latter two just how much the uncertainty about their futures is affecting them.

Both are out of contract at the end of the season and there is currently a big stand-off between them and the club over their worth.

They would be hauled off in a double substitution just past the hour mark as Solskjaer preferred the livelier presence of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira.

It was a much needed and inspired change as they would quickly combine to tee up United’s second goal.

It could easily have been Pogba hauled off.

You wonder what the talk of Real Madrid might be doing to him.

This yesterday was particularly poor from him.

Paul Pogba was not at his best but United won regardless
AFP or licensors

The crowd lost their patience with the French World Cup winner in the second-half when he lost the ball for the umpteenth time.

Solskjaer had spotted early on that United simply were not at it.

He was down on the touchline waving his arms to try and get more out of his players.

It was as well his defence and goalkeeper were up for this encounter with an impressive Watford.

The revival in form of Chris Smalling in particular has silenced talk off a need for another centre back.

They didn’t get one last summer much to Mourinho’s frustration because many behind the scenes felt they had enough talent in the squad.

The form of Smalling, Victor Lindelof suggests they and not Mourinho were right.

Anthony Martial got the second before Watford hit back late
Reuters

Phil Jones in his first start for seven weeks was also excellent.

But even when they are not at their best this is a United side under Solskajer who can produce a real rope-a-dope response when opponents think they have got them pinned down.

When they have played poorly over recent years they don’t win, under Solskjaer they find something.

So it was when they took the lead.

A goal that owed much to the brilliant work of Luke Shaw.

Nicking the ball off Troy Deeney he charged to half way and then curled a brilliant pass into the path of Rashford.

The young striker’s new found confidence in front of goal was evident as he reached the edge of the box and calmly clipped a shot past the advancing Ben Foster.

His 13th of the season.

Marcus Rashford celebrates after putting Manchester United in front
Getty Images – Getty

Watford were not done and started the second-half as they did the first, looking much more likely to score.

They could not find a way past David De Gea.

He is another whose future is in doubt but despite a lapse in the last league game away to Arsenal he proved again yesterday why keeping him has to be top priority above all others.

The second goal came courtesy of the aforementioned double substitution.

It was the 72nd minute when Pereira found Lingard and he slid the ball into the six yard box.

Anthony Martial looked just offside thought as challenged Ben Foster for the ball, fell, picked himself up again and scooped the ball home.

The flag stayed down.

Watford would nick a goal their performance deserved when Abdoulaye Doucoure tore through a crowded box and chipped the ball past De Gea in the 90th minute.

The board immediately went up for an added three minutes.


When in the last of those Lingard fouled Etienne Capoue to concede a free-kick hearts were in mouths.

A Watford foul in a crowded box as the ball was chipped in eased any anxiety as the whistle then went.

So not a classic performance but a win all the same as United keep up the chase for those Champions League spots.

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