Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer indicated how matchwinner Scott McTominay can take his game to the next level, and admitted their performance was the “opposite” of what he expected.
Man Utd secured safe passage to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a relatively comfortable 1-0 victory over Watford.
An early headed goal inside five minutes from Scotland international McTominay would ultimately prove decisive.
Speaking to the BBC after the match, Solskjaer said: “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.
“I think we played some very good stuff, created chances and then we let them back into the game but we are through.”
Regarding the performances of the club’s fringe players afforded rare starts, Solskjaer added: “They had a chance to prove they could play the next game and the game after and get some match fitness.
“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 house on fire. I expected them to grow into the game. The opposite happened more or less. We started brightly.”
FULL MATCH REPORT: Man Utd secure progression after striking early to see off Watford
McTominay’s early goal proved pivotal on a night when he wore the captain’s armband. But when speaking on the midfielder’s display, Solskjaer alluded to how his game can go to the next level.
“Scott has had a very good season,” the Norwegian continued. “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.”
McTominay references surreal moment
Matchwinner McTominay also spoke to the media, telling BT Sport: “We started really well and then for the first half an hour we were really good, moved the ball really well and there was some good combination play.
“Then we couldn’t find it after that as well. The second half I didn’t think we played anywhere near our level.
“For the boys coming into the team it is difficult, they haven’t played for a long time.
“The manager said ‘get your rhythm’ and he probably wasn’t expecting the rhythm we got in the first 30 minutes. But then there were some tired minds. But credit to the boys.”
Regarding the decision to make him captain with Harry Maguire starting from the bench, McTominday added: “When the manager told me it was a surreal moment.
“I’ve been here since I had just turned five, so that’s 18 or 19 years associated with the club and it is a huge honour. I love this club and it has been my whole life.”