Ralf Rangnick said Manchester United “showed a reaction” from their defeat to Wolves by edging past Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup.
United were pushed hard by Villa but came out 1-0 winners thanks to Scott McTominay’s first-half header.
Ollie Watkins hit the woodwork for Villa, who also had two goals disallowed.
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The result comes a week after United’s 1-0 home defeat to Wolves, after which there were reports of unrest in the dressing room.
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“I think we showed a reaction after the Wolves game,” United interim manager Rangnick told the BBC.
“That is what everyone expected from us. We knew it would be very difficult against Villa. In the first half I thought we did well. It could have been 3-2 or 4-3 to us at half-time.
“In the second half we were on the counter attack and we could have made more of those situations. We took the wrong decisions at times but when we changed to a diamond in midfield we had more control.
“In the last 20 minutes we had more control. We fought well as a team together when it was important. In the end it was a good win. That was our goal, to proceed to the next round.”
United will have another home tie against Championship side Middlesbrough in the next round.
Asked if he saw progress in the performance, Rangnick added: “Yes. To say that this was a perfect game, nobody would believe that of course it was not.
“We still have quite a few things we can get better at but clean sheet was important today and we worked together. Still a lot of things to improve but it is easier to do that with a 1-0 win.”
Rangnick was particularly impressed by McTominay’s display and said he thinks he could be a future club captain.
“He is an academy boy, his energy is amazing. He now also starts scoring goals and also with some leadership skills. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple of years he would be the captain of this team.”
Manchester United defender Raphael Varane added: “It was a difficult match. We had to suffer a lot on the pitch but together and I liked the spirit of this match.
“We had the opportunity to score more goals. When it was not possible to play higher up the pitch we were compact and did not let them play easily.
“We had to be aggressive and as a result it is good. We are happy. We need more confidence, we need to be together and I think we are in a good way.
“We just have to be focused on our job. We have to fight, we have to fight for our fans. That is it.”
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