Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested that his side should be grateful after claiming a narrow 1-0 victory over Watford in the FA Cup third round. Scott McTominay’s header inside the opening five minutes proved to be the difference between the two sides, with Watford holding firm and becoming increasingly difficult to break down over the course of the 90 minutes at Old Trafford.
The Hornets threatened United’s goal on occasion, but the hosts ultimately held on to seal victory and put themselves into the hat for the next round.
Solskjaer claimed after the final whistle that his side were at their best during the opening stages, before losing their grip on the match as the clock ticked down.
However, the Norwegian boss stressed that the final result is all that matters in knockout football.
“The most important thing in the cup is that you go through so that will make everyone happy, but the first 15-20 minutes I think were the highlights of our game,” Solskjaer told BT Sport.
“I think we played some very good stuff, created chances and then we let them back into the game but we are through.”
Solskjaer made plenty of changes from the side that faced Manchester City in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat, with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Brandon Williams handed rare starts.
The United manager continued, highlighting the ability of his fringe players to come straight into the team and cause Watford problems from the off despite lacking minutes this season.
He revealed that he was pleasantly surprised following McTominay’s early header as he was not expecting his side to threaten the Championship outfit in front of goal straight away.
“They had a chance to prove they could play the next game and the game after and get some match fitness,” Solskjaer said. “We will need all of them over the season and that was part of the reason we made changes.
“I’m delighted we are through. I told them I didn’t expect them to start like a house on fire. I expected them to grow into the game. The opposite happened more or less. We started brightly.”
United’s goalscorer McTominay was selected to skipper the side for Saturday’s match, with the Scottish midfielder producing a true captain’s performance to lead his side to victory.
He kept things ticking in the middle of the park alongside Donny van de Beek, helping to start attacks while also contributing to his side’s defensive efforts when required.
Solskjaer hailed McTominay’s development since the start of the campaign, adding that he was pleased to see the United academy product get himself on the scoresheet once again.
“Scott has had a very good season,” the 47-year-old claimed. “He is being more and more dangerous, we know he can be a box-to-box midfielder.
“He should have scored a few more on set-plays before now because he is a monster of a human being. I am very happy he got the goal.”