Manager Louis Van Gaal admitted Manchester United will have to play better than they did in their Emirates FA Cup third-round win over Sheffield United if they are to lift the trophy this season.
The Premier League side have lifted the trophy 11 times, but looked miles away from potential winners as they limped past a brave challenge from League One Sheffield United, with England captain Wayne Rooney scoring a 93rd-minute penalty to put his team in the hat for the fourth round.
Man Utd 1-0 Sheff Utd
Emirates FA Cup
Saturday 9 January 2016
Winning sides receive £67,500 from The FA prize fund
And, in an honest assessment of his team’s performance, Van Gaal said: “The result was OK but the performance was not alright.
“We moved the ball too slowly. We had to play with wingers when you come up against defensive organisation like that. They had 10, 11 behind the ball. You have to make the pitch as big as possible in response and we didn't do that.
“The most important thing is the result, but we have to improve.
“The crowd can see that it is very difficult. It's not only frustrating for the fans, but also the players and the staff and everybody.
“I can imagine the manager of Sheffield United chose these tactics but maybe you can also see that they didn't have any chances. We had another clean sheet and we deserved to win.
“It wasn't good, I agree, but we have won. That's the most important thing in the FA Cup.”
Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins felt his side had done enough to force a replay, but was keen to take the positives from matching United for so long rather than dwell on the late sucker punch.
He said: “A replay would have been fantastic. There was a steely resolve and it’s just a shame we haven't got it across the line.
“It’s a shame. There were three results on offer and we wanted two of them. The respect Manchester United have shown us showed they knew it would be a tough game.
“We were sitting there with that defensive shape and great credit to the players. They showed determination to frustrate a very good Manchester United side.
"An honest endeavour to win the ball has given the referee the opportunity to give the penalty and unfortunately they have scored it.
"I think we need to take the positives from it. We've had a challenging start to the season but I've now been able to show consistency in selection.
“It was a good effort, it's just a shame we couldn't force the replay.”
Highlights: Manchester United 1-0 Sheffield United