Craig Cathcart was not hanging around yesterday. He was not in the mood to catch up with his Northern Ireland teammates Paddy McNair or Paul Scholes, a fellow winner of the coveted Jimmy Walker Young Player of the Year award at Old Trafford.
“I didn’t really want to speak to them after the game to be honest,” Cathcart said.
You only had to see the way Cathcart lashed the rebounding ball into his own net in the friendly against Cardiff City to see how much he cares when conceding a winner. He doesn’t take defeat well. It was 2-1 that day as well but this one, against his own club, in front of the TV cameras and with a priceless Premier League point at stake, was much, much tougher to take.
“To lose the way we did was a snap back to reality,” he said. “To lose 1-0 would have felt a bit better I think, to be honest. To get the equaliser and then lose in the last minutes was more devastating. There are positives to take from the game but the lads are feeling a bit deflated.”
Even the most eyed United supporter (and there are a few) would struggle to make a case for denying Watford a point on the basis of their rousing second-half display. However the Hornets deserved diddly squat for their first 45-minute showing.
“It was disappointing obviously, we didn’t play well the first half and United made it difficult for us,” Cathcart said. “They pressed us high up the pitch and we found it difficult to play our game. The second half we came out and played better put them under a bit of pressure and created a few chances and controlled the game, so we are very disappointed.”
Quique Sanchez Flores is not a tea-cup thrower or one to get the hairdryer out at half time, not unless its to perfect his terrific head of hair. So yesterday, in the bowels of the Sir Elton John Stand, he hooked Jose Manuel Jurado, restored Nathan Ake to left-back, moved Ikechi Anya in a more advanced role and tweaked things tactically.
“He just said to get the midfield a bit higher, get the centre backs a bit further back and pick up a lot more second balls and kept the pressure on them,” Cathcart said. “We felt it [the goal] coming as we were creating chances and putting their backs against the wall. Obviously it is disappointing to get the goal to equalise and then concede the goal like we did.”
Two victories have been followed by successive 2-1 defeats and the match at Villa Park on Saturday now has an added edge.
“The two defeats have been disappointing, we have played well but haven’t got anything out of them and that little bit of luck that we needed, but we have to move on and looking forward to next week and getting some points on the board,” said Cathcart. “It’s a cliche but we take every game as it comes and the manager prepares for the game every week. We can’t afford to look too far ahead or dwell on the match we have just played, we are looking forward to the next game.”
- Additional reporting by David Anderson