The Red Devils almost went behind just minutes into the game after Scott McTominay clumsily brought down Josh King inside the 18-yard box, Ismaila Sarr had both of his penalties saved by David de Gea after the first one had to be retaken due to encroachment.
King soon made up for his teammate’s error, though, slotting in his fourth goal in as many games to give the Hornets a deserved lead just before the half-hour mark. Sarr doubled the home side’s lead prior to the half-time interval, giving United a mountain to climb in the second half.
In response to their dismal opening 45 minutes, Solskjaer introduced Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial at the interval, and it didn’t long for the former to make his mark on proceedings.
A Cristiano Ronaldo knockdown was slotted home by Van de Beek to give the Red Devils a glimpse of hope, but that optimism was wiped out when the struggling Harry Maguire received a second yellow card, ending their chances of another comeback.
Late goals from Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis rubbed salt into the wounds of United and Solskjaer, with the under-fire boss facing increased scrutiny over his role in the Old Trafford dugout.
However, many of United’s problems against Watford were self-inflicted, none more so than Maguire’s seven-minute red card. The 28-year-old received a match rating of three out of 10 by Manchester Evening News reporter Samuel Luckhurst following his “panicky” display.
“The first-half was an improvement on recent club performances. Saved United a few times during the first-half horror show with blocks and a sliding tackle. Then the panicky play returned and he was sent off,” Luckhurst wrote.
Maguire’s underlying numbers are further evidence of his substandard showing against the Hornets. As per SofaScore, the England international won just one of his three duels throughout his 69 minutes on the pitch, made only one tackle and lost possession six times, highlighting his underwhelming afternoon.
Despite De Gea conceding four goals, it was one of his defenders who was most to blame for United’s latest defeat, possibly providing the final nail in Solskjaer’s managerial coffin.