David De Gea made a mistake that led to a goal for the second straight Premier League game as Manchester United slumped to a 2-0 loss at last-place Watford on Sunday.
The Spain goalkeeper allowed a tame volley by Ismaila Sarr to slip through his hands and creep into the net via the post, gifting Watford the lead in the 50th minute at Vicarage Road.
It was another moment to forget for De Gea, who failed to punch clear a corner to allow Everton to grab an equalizer in a 1-1 draw at United last weekend. On that occasion, De Gea could legitimately argue he was being fouled as he went for the ball but he had no excuses against Watford as he slid his arms down the post and fell to his knees in embarrassment.
“It was a mistake, it happens in football and it is what we train for every day to make sure they don’t happen again,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “David has been very good lately, it is just one of those things that happen.”
Troy Deeney converted a penalty down the middle four minutes later after Aaron Wan-Bissaka tripped Sarr, putting the seal on only Watford’s second league win all season, and first under new manager Nigel Pearson.
Watford stayed in last place but moved level on 12 points with Norwich after 18 games. They are six points adrift of safety.
“All the players put a shift in and that’s what we need between now and the end of the season,” said Deeney, who scored his first goal since April.
Deeney said Pearson “has been great.”
“It’s not been an easy start for him but it’s been a blessing in disguise because we have had to roll our sleeves up as people had written us off before the game had even started.”
One positive on a bleak afternoon for United was the return of midfielder Paul Pogba, the club’s record signing who has missed nearly three months because of injury and, more recently, illness. The France midfielder came on as a 64th-minute substitute for just his seventh game for United this season and was a bright spark, having a shot palmed away and pinging two brilliant long-range passes to set up chances.
“He added urgency, quality, some great passes,” Solskjaer said. “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.”
Since beating Tottenham and champions Manchester City in the same week, United has collected just one point against Everton and Watford — two teams battling against relegation.
Breaking down opponents who do not come out to attack has been United’s weakness under Solskjaer. His team’s defeats in the league this season have come against Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and now Watford.
In contrast, United has beaten City, Chelsea, Leicester and Tottenham, while being the only team to take points off runaway leader Liverpool.
“We had been doing well but you have to earn every single point in this league,” Solskjaer said. “It was too slow, it was like a testimonial in the first half from both teams.”