There is no denying that if Jesse Lingard hadn’t squandered his glorious first half chance, United’s prospects of coming away from Vicarage Road with three points would have been significantly boosted.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fell to a fourth away defeat of the season as goals from Ismaila Sarr and Troy Deeney gave Nigel Pearson his first win as Watford boss.
Lingard was played through one-on-one by Anthony Martial, but instead of smashing the ball past Ben Foster or opting to go round the Watford stopper, the 27-year-old tried to scoop the ball over the former United goalkeeper, but the ball landed on the top of the net.
Harry Maguire admitted that Lingard’s miss was costly and compared it to the golden chance he missed earlier in the season in the defeat to Newcastle United.
“He knows he has to score,” Maguire told Sky Sports’ post game coverage.
“That was a big chance in the game. The first goal is crucial. I missed one against Newcastle and we went on to lose. He has missed it, we moved on. We still had to go on and win the game but we didn’t.”
Speaking after the match, Solskjaer also gave his view on the opportunity and admitted the chip shot was probably not a wise decision from the English midfielder.
“Ben Foster stood up so I don’t think a chip was the right option,” he told the club’s official website.
“It was a good run, we could have been 1-0 up but it happens. Sometimes you miss the target and sometimes you score.”
Lingard is not a natural goalscorer, and it showed.
United need to be more ruthless
It has been a common theme during Solskjaer’s tenure that if we fall behind, it is very rare that we find a way to get ourselves back into the match.
According to the Premier League website, United currently sit 7th for the number of big chances missed so far this season (26).
Manchester City (43) and Liverpool (30) may sit above us in that chart, but they possess the personnel and quality to carve out chances on a regular basis.
If United miss a chance, it’s hard to envisage due to our creativity issues where our next clear cut chance is going to come from.
Missed opportunities this season have seen potential wins turn into draws, or into defeats.
Our young forward line need to become more ruthless in front of goal otherwise the way the match panned out against Watford will continue to be a recurring theme.
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