Watford piled the pressure on Solskjaer as the Hornets won 4-1 against a woeful Manchester United.
Before the game both managers made the point that they had used the international break to their advantage - to regroup and find solutions to their poor performances.
But it was clearly the Watford manager who had utilised his time better as his side came out the traps fastest and forced the visitors onto the the backfoot. With their high pressing football the Hornets hunted in packs and badgered the United players into a catalogue of mistakes.
And their tactics almost paid off after seven minutes as Bruno Fernandes' miscued clearance ended up in his own box, forcing Scott McTominay into bringing down Joshua King. Referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot, but Ismaïla Sarr couldn’t convert with two attempts. The first was chalked off after Kiko Femenia was deemed to have encroached before poking the ball past David de Gea. Then the retake was well saved by the United keeper.
Just before the half hour mark Watford were ahead thanks to an Emmanuel Dennis assist, as the forward did well to make a yard of space in the box before setting up King for the simplest of tap-ins from six yards out. Five minutes before the interval Watford doubled their lead with Sarr finally getting on the scoresheet. The forward latched onto a cut back from Femenia and made no mistake as he fired his low effort into the far corner past de Gea.
At half time Solskjaer made a double change giving Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek a chance to make an impact off the bench. And it was the Dutchman who took his chance five minutes after coming on as he headed Ronaldo’s centre into the back of the net.
As United grew into the game they were hit with a hammer blow as captain Harry Maguire was shown a red for two clumsy challenges.
United continued to search for an equaliser, but they failed to capitalise on a host of chances with Watford grabbing two late goals. The first through young substitute João Pedro who fired a low effort past de Gea and the second from Dennis who muscled his way into the box and slotted the ball home.
Next up for the Hornets is an away trip to take on Leicester City at the King Power stadium, whilst United return to European action against Villarreal before taking on Chelsea in the league.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United reacts during the Premier League match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road on November 20, 2021 in Watford, England
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - UNITED NOT AT THE RACES
Coming into the game Solskjaer spoke of getting back to playing the kind of football that reflects United’s attacking style. But in truth over the course of 90 minutes they failed to play a style of football that any team would be proud of - it was a performance that was punctuated by a catalogue of mistakes.
MAN OF THE MATCH - EMMANUEL DENNIS (WATFORD)
The forward was a constant threat and a thorn in the side of United from moment game started. Not only did he run the visitors ragged he also popped up with a clinical assist and well taken goal deep in stoppage time. With performances like that Watford will feel like they have a gem on their hands at just 24 years old.
Watford: Foster 7, Femenía 7, Cathcart 6, Nkoulou 6, Masina 6, Sissoko 7, Sarr 8, Louza 7, Cleverley 7, Dennis 9, King 8, Pedro 6
Man United : de Gea 5, Wan-Bissaka 4, Lindelöf 4, Maguire 3, Shaw 4, McTominay 5, Matic 3, Sancho 5, Fernandes 4, Rashford 5, Ronaldo 5, van de Beek 6
Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, southeast England, on November 20, 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
28' - GOAL! 1-0 Watford (King) - All the pressure has paid off as Dennis is found in the box and the Belgian picks out King who taps the ball in from six yards out
44' - GOAL! 2-0 Watford (Sarr) - The hosts have doubled their lead. Femenía does well to cut the ball back to Sarr inside the box who fires his shot into the far corner.
50' - GOAL! 2-1 Man United (van de Beek) - Game on as the Dutchman is in the right place at the right time to head the ball into the back of the net after Ronaldo squared it back across the box
69' - RED CARD! A second booking for Maguire who clatters into Cleverley having tried to play out from the back
90' - GOAL! 3-1 Watford (Pedro) -The young Brazilian fires his shot past the near post of de Gea to put the game beyond United
90'+4 - GOAL! 4-1 Watford (Dennis) - This has just gone from bad to worse for United as Dennis gets a goal that he thoroughly deserved. The forward powers into the box before slotting the ball into the back of the net
Manchester United have suffered their biggest league defeat against a promoted side since September 1989, a 5-1 loss against Manchester City at Maine Road