Manchester United three best players in 1-0 vs Watford in FA Cup

Manchester United progressed into the FA Cup Fourth Round in forgettable style. As The Athletic‘s Carl Anka summarised it soon after full-time, it was “like being handed a warm, shaken-up beer at a party. You appreciate the sentiment, and it was free, but that was kind of gross.

United did the job. And that’s enough. A few players did enough to stand out.

Alex Telles creates more chances than other Manchester United players

The left-back created six chances, more than any other player on the pitch. In defence, he made two tackles, two interceptions, three clearances, three blocks, won three aerial duels and no errors. That’s a good game.

His deliveries from set pieces were excellent. The cross for McTominay was converted well by the Scotsman but another Telles delivery should have been finished off by Eric Bailly.

Donny van de Beek excels in final third

Van de Beek is not a serious option for United in a two-man midfield. It’s not his role. The quicker United fans accept that, the more realistic expectations can be for the Dutchman.


Nevertheless, Van de Beek is a stylish player who is brilliant to watch. In a position higher up the pitch, he excels. He plays with speed and efficiency; giving and taking the ball to and from his teammates quickly and upping the tempo of United’s play.

That’s not something that many players in United’s squad offer and more of it would be nice. We need to see more of Van de Beek, but higher up the pitch.

Scott McTominay scores only goal of game

McTominay scored the goal that won the game for United. Given the all-round averageness of United’s display, that counts for quite a lot. McTominay was sometimes sloppy with his passing in both halves but made important contributions to the defensive effort. That included two tackles, three blocks and three interceptions.

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

He did what was expected of him as captain, and a little more. It’s great to see an academy graduate captain the team. McTominay and his family have worked hard for that since he was a kid.

An honourable mention to Juan Mata. As slick as ever and offered some nice combination play with Van de Beek.

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Life-long Manchester United fan with a strong interest in the club's academy. Host of the Manchester United Weekly Podcast and United Through Time. First game at Old Trafford was the 7-1 rout of AS Roma in 2007.