SO ANOTHER Cup journey begins for Manchester United.
The last four over a year have ended at the semi-final stage so what will the 2020-21 FA Cup hold in store?
Scott McTominay scored early for Manchester United on Saturday nightCredit: PA:Press Association
The fifth-minute header was enough to secure passage to the fourth roundCredit: AFP or licensors
Well, their first hurdle in this third round has been cleared for the ten time winners, most recently lifting the trophy back in 2016.
That was under Louis van Gaal when the Red Devils football was a painful watch.
Not so much now, despite the disappointment last week of that fourth consecutive semi-final defeat, this time to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.
Solskjaer says there is no mental problem when his team gets too close to glory.
Still he would love to prove it and club football’s oldest competition offers another chance for the manager who twice lifted it as a player.
Victory was secured with a goal in just the fifth minute from the head of Scott McTominay.
With nine changes to their team they could not find their usual rhythm, however Watford made seven and rattled the home side.
Despite the lip service that is paid to this competition, all those changes proved once more that the league is simply more important.
Particularly when United have the chance to go top of the table on Tuesday if they avoid defeat at Turf Moor when they take on Burnley.
For Championship side Watford, FA Cup finalists in 2019, the aim is simply to get back into the top-flight at the first attempt after going down last season.
Xisco Munoz is the latest incumbent in the Hornets’ hotseat but after three games must already be fearing for his job following this second successive defeat – well it is Watford.
Still his side could be proud of their efforts.
Despite the changes Solskjaer made this was still a strong United side and one that had the confidence boost of that early lead.
McTominay met Alex Telles outswinging corner with a downward header that bounced up off the turf into the top corner beyond Daniel Rachmann’s despairing dive.
You might have expected the floodgates to then open.
But Watford steadied, stayed in the game and only an excellent save by Dean Henderson on 16 minutes denied them an equaliser.
Adam Masina had a close-range shot from an angle but Henderson made himself big and saved with his leg before Axel Tuanzebe cleared from in front of his own line.
Watford’s defending from corners was leaving something to be desired.
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Eric Bailly was forced off after a first-half head injuryCredit: Reuters
The Ivorian became entangled in a high battle for the ballCredit: Reuters
McTominay had already scored from one when Eric Bailly was given plenty of space in the box to meet another Telles out swinger but this time the header went just wide of the far post.
Donny van de Beek was given a rare chance to shine from the start.
There has been much consternation back in Holland as to why the £40million signing from Ajax has been afforded so little game time.
This was only his ninth start.
Solskjaer clearly feels he needs more time to adapt to the English game.
Still there is no doubting his talent as was showcased in the 43rd minute when a clever flick with his instep gave Juan Mata a free hit from an angle which Bachmann denied him with an outstretched leg.
There was a worrying moment right at the end of the first half when Henderson came off his line and jumped to punch clear kneeing Eric Bailly in the head on the way.
He was attended too and taken off looking dazed with Harry Maguire coming on to replace him.
Bailly had been at the centre of the games only controversial moment before that which left Watford could understandably aggrieved going at not being awarded a penalty.
It was the 32 minute when the ball bounced off Alex Tuanzebe and up onto the arm of Bailly.
The centre-half had lifted his arm up, so it could have been deemed to be in an unnatural position but both referee Andrew Madley and VAR Peter Bankes gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The changes made by Solskjaer afforded some the chance to make the boss have a rethink when it came to league games, but they weren’t all taken.
Certainly not by Mason Greenwood to lay claim for the central striker’s role.
His spark has gone since his antics in Iceland saw him kicked out of the England camp.
And what has happened to Jesse Lingard, not long ago a regular for Red Devils and Three Lions, now unable to sting The Hornets?
This was only his second start of the season and the rustiness showed.
The Red Devils were unable to grab a second to kill the tieCredit: AFP or licensors
Jesse Lingard featured for a much-changed United sideCredit: AFP or licensors
Solskjaer had been hoping to keep his main frontmen Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial on the bench ahead of the Burnley game.
But such was the precarious look of the scoreboard he had to bring both into the action on 68 minutes.
James and the ineffective Greenwood making way.
Rashford would have a chance to seal the deal when he charged into the box but Bachmann again came to the rescue.
It would not prove costly. United through.
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