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The Frenchman’s return to the side was the only positive in a disappointing display which saw the Red Devils defeated at Vicarage Road
Paul Pogba’s return and subsequent performance off the bench was the only “plus” in Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat to Watford, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United once again produced a disappointing display against an opponent they would be expected to beat, as rock-bottom Watford gave their survival hopes a boost.
Ismaila Sarr opened the scoring just after half-time when David de Gea allowed his tame volley to squirm into the top corner, before Troy Deeney made it 2-0 from the spot following Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s clumsy tackle on Watford’s first goal-scorer.
Pogba was introduced from the bench for his first appearance in nearly three months and looked comfortably United’s best player.
Although he was unable to inspire a turnaround, Solskjaer considered his performance the only positive from United’s overall display.
“The big plus is Paul coming on, and that’s the one plus,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport. “He added urgency, quality, some great passes.
“The boy has been working hard. He’s fit and leaner. He’ll bring us a lot. He is important for us. He makes us create more chances.”
De Gea’s error proved costly and he also had a lucky escape in the first half when Watford were denied a goal because Craig Cathcart was adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper, though replays suggested it was harsh on the defender.
Solskjaer insisted De Gea is not suffering from a lack of confidence, however.
“It’s one of those things. He’s been so good in training and focused,” Solskjaer said of the Spain international.
“One goal is a mistake and the second is a penalty. David’s been very confident lately and I don’t look at it any other way.”
Pogba, meanwhile, completed 90 per cent of the passes he attempted during his the half-an-hour or so he was on the pitch after replacing Jesse Lingard. The Frenchman made one key pass and managed to get two shots on target.
Compatriot Anthony Martial also impressed in flashes, but it was Pogba’s presence and return to the side which will really give Solskjaer hope they can recover from this defeat and mount a serious challenge for the top four.