He is clearly still remembered with some fondness by United fans - and rightly so - given he is their record goalscorer as they chanted his name early in the game. That would allow Mourinho to blame Manchester United for his departure.
"Paul [Pogba] tries to do his best all the time and sometimes he plays very well".
It was Lingard's 10 goal of the season and his fourth in his last five appearances. But, following the criticism which was so heavy and against Louis van Gaal, Mourinho is right to speak out in defence.
His stunning effort from outside the box to kill the game off showed the good form he is in. He's nowhere near as deadly or prolific as the Tottenham goal-machine. At Everton, for example, he made 83 high-intensity sprints - 29 more than any of his Manchester United team-mates and 21 more than anyone on the pitch.
But his manager is unfazed by that and feels he has finally arrived at the big stage.
In the wake of the preceding 0-0 draw against Southampton, Paul Scholes, watching the match as part of BT Sport's punditry entourage, reserved specific condemnation for Paul Pogba, who he criticised for "not looking like a £90million player" capable of winning games.
"But he never got into the limelight there until he was about 24, and I think that will be the same with Lingard. He is going in a good direction". Having struggled towards the end of 2017, United were more commanding in their first match of the new year and Lingard wrapped up the points with a superb solo strike in the 81st minute. He found space in-between the lines before skipping past a challenge to then place his shot past Jordan Pickford into the top corner. Chelsea and Liverpool are accustomed to that change and it isn't something United are used to.
Draws against Leicester and Burnley either side of Christmas severely undermined United's status as challengers to Manchester City and Saturday's 0-0 stalemate at home to Southampton means they were 15 points adrift of City before this morning's game against Everton at Goodision Park.