Victories usually bring smiles but for Louis van Gaal and Manchester United fans around town last night and this morning grimaces and groans have been the norm after the 3-1 defeat of Burnley.
Goals from Chris Smalling and Robin van Persie were enough to see-off the Clarets, who had levelled through in-form striker Danny Ings.
But the Reds were far from their best at Old Trafford, and Van Gaal conceded that they were fortunate to take the spoils.
“It was not good in the first half,” admitted the Dutchman.
“We didn’t perform well and Burnley were the better team on the pitch. But we were ahead in the result and I was very happy with that.
“Because they pressed us and we lost the ball. Every second ball was to Burnley.
“We didn’t keep the ball and so you cannot give the ball more speed. We have to do it but, when you lose the ball already with the first or second pass, you know that it’s very difficult.”
The hosts got off to a flying start when, after replacing Phil Jones, England defender Smalling nodded home in the sixth minute with his first touch of the game.
But Burnley were not to be deterred, and Ings restored parity just six minutes later with a neat header past David De Gea at the back post.
Matters were made worse for United when Daley Blind limped off midway through the half as Burnley stepped up the intensity – with Ander Herrera replacing the stricken Dutch midfielder.
However, it was United who went ahead when Smalling headed in from Angel Di Maria’s cross – becoming the first substitute to score a first-half double in the process.
Despite De Gea saving well from Ings early in the second-half, Burnley rarely threatened after the interval, and the result was put beyond all doubt when Van Persie netted from the penalty spot late on.
And Van Gaal was quick to commend the impact that his two enforced substitutions had upon proceedings.
“I have to say we improved in the second half and created more chances, also scoring a third goal,” he said.
“We could have scored more and we only gave one chance away to Burnley.
“Smalling scored two really good goals – the first time he has done that.
“Furthermore, in the second half, he was improving his game. I was very happy with him.
“Also Herrera, who was coming in for Blind, played very well, I think.”
Main image courtesy of BBC1 via YouTube, with thanks.