Luke Shaw knows Manchester United need to be at it from the outset if they are to avoid their run of back-to-back defeats getting any worse at Watford.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival has re-energised those around Old Trafford, with some big-name summer acquisitions helping increase a fervour largely missing under Louis van Gaal.
Community Shield glory was followed by three straight Premier League wins, but United have been thrown off kilter as the derby defeat at home to Manchester City was followed by losing Thursday’s Europa League opener 1-0 at Feyenoord.
Both losses were slender and could have been avoided were it not for ineffective first-half displays – something Shaw says cannot be repeated when they return to domestic action at Watford.
“We need to start the game sharp,” the left-back said of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Hertfordshire.
“The last two games we’ve played, we haven’t made the best of starts especially in the first half, and we need to change that.
“It was frustrating to watch (against Feyenoord). We didn’t have many chances against us and their goal was a clear offside – we were unfortunate with that.
“We created a couple of chances, not many but the ones we had were quite clear. We were unlucky not to score.
“Both games are gone now and we need to look forward. We need to focus on ourselves and how we start.
“We need to get off to a quick start and hopefully get an early goal that would settle us.”
Thursday’s defeat to Feyenoord was the first United match Shaw has missed this season, having been rested rather than taken to Holland a year to the day since suffering a gruesome double leg break at PSV Eindhoven.
That had been planned since the City loss, with the 21-year-old coming off late on due to a tight hamstring.
A scan revealed no damage and should mean Shaw returns to the starting line-up at Vicarage Road, where Watford are looking to build on last weekend’s impressive 4-2 comeback win at West Ham.
“I am not sure how many points they’ve got, but obviously I have seen their result on the weekend,” the England international told MUTV.
“I think they’ll be in good form and have a lot of confidence from beating West Ham like that.
“They were 2-0 down as well, so to come back and win 4-2, away as well – everyone knows how hard it is to play against West Ham – I am sure they will be in good spirits ahead of the game on Sunday.”