Watford has shocked the football world, handing Manchester United a humiliating 2-0 defeat at Vicarage Road.
David De Gea made a horrible mistake that led to a goal for the second-straight Premier League game as United slumped to defeat at last-place Watford.
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
It was another moment to forget for De Gea, who failed to punch clear a corner to allow Everton to grab an equaliser 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,” he said.
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.”
The football world was quick to pile on United, with some labelling De Gea’s howler and the overall performance ‘horrible’ and ‘disgusting’.
De Gea’s mistake is completely inexcusable but I don’t understand Wan Bissaka’s need to go to ground on every tackle, especially in his own box whilst the balls in the air?— Jack Dresser (@jackdresser98) December 22, 2019
AWB's first major error in a United shirt so far. That's forgivable. De Gea's error is inexcusable.— Tim (@McMaestro39) December 22, 2019
David Martin, the 33 year old third choice West Ham keeper who made his PL debut 23 days ago, has the same number of clean sheets as David de Gea this season— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) December 22, 2019
Awful from De Gea. Leno catches that easily, plays it forward, Xhaka loses it, Sarr takes it past Sokratis before Luiz brings him down and Deeney scores the penalty.— Paddy (@VieiraPaddy) December 22, 2019
That is absolutely horrible. It’s not rare either btw, how many games since ole joined has De Gea let us down?— JB (@24J02) December 22, 2019
Horrible from de gea. A top keeper like him shouldn’t do that.— 𝙼𝚛 𝚜𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚔𝚜 🎴 (@WaziriZayyad) December 22, 2019
How is this possible? De gea? Wake up United!!! Wake up Ole, this is not good enough. Horrible— 🔴KingCantona7🔴 (@pal_vegard) December 22, 2019
David De Gea is done at Man United. The mediocrity around him has sucked him in. Disgusting. #WATMUN— Tushar Jadhav (@tusharrjadhav) December 22, 2019
Absolutely disgusting performance by @ManUtd .What happened to De Gea,how can he miss such easy balls.— Shreyasnettar (@shreyasnettar) December 22, 2019
United slipping down the ladder
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.”