Where you confident of getting the point after being under so much pressure?
I do not quite know what to say on that one. I mean, the fact is, how many teams come up here to old Trafford and do not find themselves under pressure during the course of the game? I thought we dealt with the pressure quite brilliantly. I thought our defending was good from the front, right the way through to the back. I thought at the end of the day, the hard work of the players and their determination – quite simply, the desire we showed – means we go away from here with a very good point. I do not know there are many teams in the bottom three that come here and outplay Manchester United for the 90 minutes. Clean sheet the base for survival? Yep well we do have players I think who can score a goal for us which is good. We actually showed up in the game here because there were three or four quite good occasions in the last ten minutes of the game where Man United were really going for the victory, putting all their attacking players on the field, and piling them all forward, and we actually broke a lot and there were three or four good opportunities. All that was missing was the decision of the final past, and the quality of the final pass. But that’s what happens when you’re at the bottom of the league. And we had plenty of points behind us, I’m pretty certain, passing the system had the quality of the pass been better.
What were the key principles you asked of your players before the game?
Well I think the first thing we had to do was to make certain we were playing a team who not only play good football, are good athletes. So we had to make certain first of all, we were not trying to weave clever patterns just outside our penalty area to give them the opportunity to steal the ball from us. Which is something they could have so easily done with the athleticism of their players. So we had to make certain we had the ball further up the field whenever we could to give ourselves a chance of having a platform to build an attack from there. But most important was the shape of the team. The fact that we closed down the gaps which Manchester United – and teams like Manchester United, the top teams in the country – are so good at finding. You know, the gaps in between your center-back, you fullback, between the team. And we tried to block the crosses, and to push out and they did not get that many clear shots from outside the box. It was not rocket science as such, but it took an awful lot from the players to produce that performance because obviously we were playing against a team that are blessed with some of the best players.
Are Josh King and Ismaila Sarr fine, they seemed to have knocks during the game?
I do not know about Ismaila Sarr to be perfectly honest. He was in the dressing room with out staff after the game and seemed to be okay. But I do not know if he took a knock there. But I’m hoping it will not be serious. And as for Josh it was quite simply the third game in a week, he was suffering a little bit from his back and his shoulder injury from training, and I think it was quite simply a question of him tiring and needing a break and luckily we were able to take him off and put somebody else on.
After the Crytal Palace loss, was it heartening to see the players put that game behind them?
Yea, they were very good at sticking to their task today. I thought the result on Wednesday was a harsh one, a somewhat unjustified harshness as well. Because with ten minutes to go, it was us still looking to get back in the game with an equalizer, but then they added two goals to their score. But it was important the players did not have the same attitude towards that as people in general tend to have, because every game is decided from the result backwards. So, you. know, if we’d have equalized at 2-2 against Crystal Palace everyone would have been saying what a good performance. As it turns out, you concede two late goals and suddenly your team is a disaster. The truth is, it was not as bad on Wednesday as some people have liked to have made it, and it probably was not as good as some people will maybe make this one. But it was important to show the reliance to come back and most importantly for the players to realize if we want to get something at Old Trafford this is the performance that is necessary. Because it’s not going to be handed to us on a plate. And if we want it, we are really going to have to put in the effort. Show the sort of defensive discipline to do the amount of running that the team has done today. I am very proud of the team for doing that. And they should be very proud of themselves.
What was the thinking in moving Craig Cathcart to right-back?
It was to give [Jeremy] Ngakia a rest because I think he was struggling little bit. I think he was struggling from the start I think truth be told. He has not played for such a long time, not an easy game to be thrown in at the deep end, to play against Manchester United in the form that we played them in today with the quality of players they have. So really, that was purely part-practical, but part also we felt Jeremy needed to be taken out and given a rest. In the same way that we thought Josh King needed to be taken out and arrested, and Tom Cleverley at the end. I was told by other coaches at the club, I’ve not really seen Craig play right-back but I’ve seen Christian [Kabasele] play center-back and liked him there. And they informed be that the best move would not be to put Christian in at right-back in place of Ngakia, and to move Cathcart over. Which I did on their advice, and it worked well. Because I thought the whole back four throughout the game were absolutely top.
If Kiko Femenia is not fit, could Cathcart play at right-back?
Oh blimey, listen. We’re talking to me here, I just watched a team bottom of the table draw 0-0 against a team of super stars, almost a billion pounds worth of players, and you’re asking me about next week. Give me a break, I’ll answer the question maybe on Friday.