Manchester United go second in the Premier League table after scrappy win at Watford
Not at their best, Van Gaal’s men grind out 2-1 win against promoted outfit
Louis van Gaal conceded Manchester United are far from pretty to watch after they ground out a 2-1 victory at Watford thanks to Troy Deeney’s late own goal.
Van Gaal’s side have been criticised for their conservative style of play under the Dutchman this season, but their latest defensive display paid dividends at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
They had taken an 11th minute lead through Memphis Depay and, although Deeney’s 87th minute penalty ended a run of 10 hours without conceding, United snatched the points at the death when Deeney turned Bastian Schweinsteiger’s effort into his own net in stoppage-time.
“I have changed the system,” Van Gaal said. “Our positional game was not so good and that was disappointing. I know some people think our positional game is boring but I think it is a way to disorganise the opponent’s organisation.
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“I was very satisfied about our defensive organisation. We didn’t give more than three chances away, one in the first half and two in the second.
“Memphis and Jesse Lingard played a very good game. We could have finished the game much earlier. I have to say after the penalty, I thought we gave it away but then you see the spirit of the game.
“We created three chances in a row. It was an injection, the equaliser. I am very proud I am the manager of that team.”
Van Gaal will now assess a depleted team ahead of Wednesday’s home Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven.
Having been without a host of players including forwards Wayne Rooney (illness), Anthony Martial (foot) and James Wilson (knee), United also lost Ander Herrera and Phil Jones at Vicarage Road.
“We are in a lousy period because there are a lot of injuries,” said Van Gaal. “We had already injuries. Antonio Valencia has been operated on. Luke Shaw, you know. Jones and Herrera are not available for Wednesday.
“The first impression is they are not heavy injuries but we have to play Wednesday.
“Jones has a twisted ankle and Herrera maybe a hamstring injury. Rooney is ill and illness is a matter of days, not weeks.
“I do expect that he shall play Wednesday. He is at home. Tomorrow (Sunday) he comes and then I can say more.
“Martial has a foot problem. It is not so heavy but we have to wait and see.
“Every position is double occupied. It is only now that the striker position is not occupied because Rooney, Martial and Wilson are injured.”
Watford manager Quique Flores was left to rue the own goal that cost his side a point.
“It was very harsh,” he said. “To lose the points is very tough.
“It was a pity for Troy because he was only in that position because he is so committed all over the pitch.
“He had just scored a very clever penalty and it was unfortunate for him to score an own goal. We felt we had done enough to deserve a point – although we did not play well in the first half.
“We tried in the first half but we could not. At half-time we had to forget and play a match for 45 minutes.
“I will go home now and not punish myself too much as things are clear. Some matches you have to study a lot but not after this one.”