Memphis gave Man United the lead early on and Lingard should have been on hand to double that advantage in the second half. The 22-year-old was unable to finish two separate one-on-one chances to put the game to bed but his manager was still happy with his performance.
Speaking after the game, van Gaal opened up about the role he expects Memphis to play going forward, having finally reinstated him to the starting lineup for the first time in over a month.
The manager told manutd.com: “In the first half, Memphis was superb, like Jesse Lingard. I think also this role for Memphis is the best one for him. He played it also in the World Cup for me when [Robin] van Persie and [Arjen] Robben were injured so I knew he could do it. Jesse also was fantastic and we have created a lot of chances thanks to those two.”
United definitely seemed to be able to create more than they have in recent weeks and the interchange between Lingard and Memphis was a huge reason for that. The pair seamlessly switched positions throughout the first half, giving the Watford defence the predicament of wondering which one of them to mark. Memphis carved out a big chance for Lingard but, despite creating so much, United struggled to put the game to bed.
The pair both put in encouraging performances but it is clear that neither is the finished article. Lingard’s finishing left much to be desired, while Memphis’s decision-making continued to let him down on occasion. However, the whole team will be delighted with three points and the two young players will be hoping to get the opportunity to showcase their talents on a regular basis.