Another lacklustre performance from Manchester United under Ralf Rangnick, with the much-spoken about control completely missing from the game.
United crawled to a 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday night to progress to the FA Cup fourth round thanks to an early Scott McTominay header.
Villa were the dominant side on the night though, having two goals disallowed by VAR and missing a host of other chances throughout the 90 minutes as United failed to contain them.
Manager Rangnick once again opted for the ‘McFred’ duo in midfield and it started well with Brazilian whipping in a brilliant cross for the Scot to head home the opening goal.
But as the game went on it was clear that the ‘control’ Rangnick so often speaks about was once again missing, as Steven Gerrard’s side repeatedly walked through the middle of the pitch to create chances.
Somehow McTominay was given the man of the match award by BBC commentator Dion Dublin, but his performance was pretty poor even by his own standards.
Donny Van de Beek was brought on to the pitch with around 20 minutes to go as Rangnick changed the system to try and gain some control, and they stemmed the flow of the game in order to see out their victory.
It raised yet another question about the Dutchman’s chances in the side, with just one start to his name since the German’s arrival at the club.
When the team sheet was announced, fans immediately reacted negatively to the fact that he wasn’t in the side.
It seemed as though despite his obvious qualities on the ball in a position that the team are at their weakest, something is happening behind the scenes that means he isn’t being picked.
He wasn’t being called upon if the team were winning, losing or drawing, if performances were good or bad or even if the team was being rotated. So what is the point of him being here.
Add to that the fact that the midfield area is consistently underperforming in their duties on the pitch, and surely he is due a chance?
Rangnick praised the control that Van de Beek brought to the midfield at the end of the game so surely now it’s worth giving him a run in the team?
He can’t be any worse than the current options and if he performs badly, then at least there is a reason for him to not be playing.
The same can be said for Jesse Lingard in the attacking positions, with all of the attackers underperforming and yet someone who has all the attributes that Rangnick waxes lyrical about is sitting on the bench struggling for minutes.
McTominay is suspended for the weekend which would provide another golden opportunity for Van de Beek to get in the team and show if he can provide what nobody else seems to be able to.
If he can’t, then there is literally no point in him being part of the squad and Rangnick should just allow him to leave during the January window.
Jesse Lingard’s future at Manchester United has been up in the air for the best part of two years, and yet nothing seems to be changing any time soon.
The 29-year-old has been at the club since an infant, coming through the academy at Carrington and making his debut under Louis van Gaal way back in 2014.
His future looked bright, but it just never really took off and for the best part of three seasons the door has been open for the player to leave.
It seemed like he finally got the message last winter, when he joined West Ham United on a six-month loan deal after a severe lack of minutes under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
He was brilliant, scoring nine times in 16 appearances as West Ham made it to the Europa League and everything looked set for him to return on a permanent contract.
But despite just 12 months remaining on his contract, the decision was made for him to stay at the club. The same United side that he couldn’t even get on the bench for six months prior, who had added Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo to their attacking ranks, were keeping Lingard again.
Lingard had a bit of a run of form off the bench, scoring the winner against West Ham on his return to the London Stadium and also notching against Newcastle. But since then he saw his minutes deplete again and he rejected a new contract with the club, meaning the expectation was that he’d leave in January.
However with Solskjaer getting sacked and Ralf Rangnick coming in, The Athletic are reporting that Lingard will now be staying at Old Trafford for the rest of the season and will only make a decision on his future in the summer – when his contract expires.
Obviously there isn’t much of a sample size under Rangnick, but the chances of him getting greatly improved game time in the second half the season are likely to still be poor.
In a World Cup year, his decision not to push for a move away to get an extra six months of regular football under his belt is just baffling.
There would be plenty of clubs interested in January that would give him regular game time at a high level, but instead he is choosing to stay and fight for his place from the bench with limited opportunities.
At this point, any loss of form or lack of playing time has lost sympathy among neutrals and United fans. He’s been given ample opportunity to show he is good enough and move away to play elsewhere and he’s done neither.
His career has stalled during his prime years at the club and he’s done nothing to change that. He’s in a rut and he’s stuck there because of his own strange decisions.
The summer of 2020 was all about the future of Jesse Lingard at one point, and the England man found himself out in the cold.
Despite the addition of Edinson Cavani, Donny Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes into the first-team picture at Manchester United, Jesse Lingard opted to stay at the club and fight for his first-team place after scoring his first and only goal of the season on the final day against Leicester the previous season.
He found himself out in the cold in the first half of last season, featuring only in the Carabao Cup and failing to get on the pitch for even a single minute in the Premier League.
He left the club on loan in January and joined West Ham, where he lit up the league and became one of the best performing players in the second half of the campaign.
He scored nine goals and registered four assists in 16 games for the Hammers, helping them to secure European football and it was expected that he would complete a permanent move away from Old Trafford last summer.
But with a year left on his deal and with Manchester United signing Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho to add to their attacking options, Lingard instead opted to stay put and fight for his place once more.
He started the season relatively well, scoring against Newcastle and West Ham while also setting up Ronaldo for the winning goal against Villarreal in the Champions League. But all of those appearances came from the substitutes bench, with his only start so far coming in the Carabao Cup.
This has led to more speculation over his future, with reports that he has rejected a new contract at the club as he wants assurances over more regular game time.
Barcelona and AC Milan are reportedly interested in signing him on a free transfer, but the whole situation just screams poor planning on United’s behalf once again.
The Reds had ample interest in the 28-year-old during the summer for a permanent deal but set their asking price at around £30m.
For a player who had six-months of good form and was out of contract in less than 12 months time, it seemed high and was proven to be when nobody made an official offer for the England international.
Lingard strangely didn’t push for a move, despite the lack of football ultimately costing him a place in the Euro 2020 squad, something he admitted made him cry.
So with a World Cup coming up next year, the decision to put himself back into that scenario was just odd. United’s decision to keep him was odd, Solskjaer’s adamance to keep him around but not use him is odd. The whole situation is odd.
Now it seems that United will lose out on a chunk of money for a valuable asset, Lingard will miss out on another half-season of football and clubs interested will get a bargain for a player who showed he is capable of making a difference.
United must learn that sometimes they need to just let players go for a bit less than market value to be able to get something at all. Because far too often they are left in a situation where they get nothing for players that they had plenty of interest in, because they’re too stubborn to shift their demands or far too generous with their contracts which means players are too comfortable and don’t press to leave.
It’s a nasty cycle and one United must break, or face the same situation happening again and again in the future.
James Ward-Prowse put his point across to England manager Gareth Southgate during the final warm-up game for Euro 2020 as England beat Romania 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium.
The Southampton man started in central midfield in a heavily changed England line-up as they prepare for their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia next Sunday and put in a great performance alongside Kalvin Phillips and then Jordan Henderson until he was replaced on 75 minutes.
It certainly did him no harm in his chances of replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final England squad for the tournament, after the England man picked up a thigh injury that ruled him out of contention after initially being picked.
With Mason Greenwood ruled out through injury too and only three goalkeepers allowed to be named it means Southgate has five options to replace Trent.
But with Ollie Watkins as a striker, it seems unlikely that he would be involved in any scenario that Southgate could think up. Then you have Ben Godfrey, who can play as both a centre-back or right-back as he did against Romania. But with three right-back options already in the squad and four natural centre-backs plus Walker, Shaw and James able to cover in a back three he doesn’t seem too needed there.
Ben White is another option, with the same capabilities as Godfrey but also an ability to play in defensive midfield too which could appeal to the manager with Jordan Henderson’s fitness worries. But it would seem a bit silly from Southgate to opt for White because of his ability to play in midfield when you have midfielders readily available.
That leaves Ward-Prowse and Lingard to battle out for the spot and the Saints skipper should be the man to get the nod for me.
While Lingard has had an excellent half-season with West Ham United, he is far more offensive minded and occupies a more advanced position in the team. Those attacking midfield positions are unaffected by Trent’s withdrawal with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount all still in the conversation for a place in the team.
That means Ward-Prowse is the most logical choice in terms of squad balance, but he’s also the best option.
Trent’s biggest weapon is his crossing and set-piece delivery, something that Ward-Prowse also possesses. Add to that the fact he is a natural central midfielder, has played in the England setup under Southgate for a lot of this season and offers something different to the other midfielders in the team.
He has a wicked set-piece delivery and if England start chasing a game that becomes an option, much like it would’ve done had Trent been available on the bench. He’s a familiar face with great energy and talent and fits the balance perfectly.
Southgate’s choice is relatively easy to make, but it turns out he doesn’t agree. The England manager confirmed on Monday morning that it would in fact be Ben White would replace Alexander-Arnold in the squad, after he impressed in defensive midfield and centre-back during the two friendlies and training.
My first thoughts on that are that while that may be true, the fact that Harry Maguire is a huge doubt for the opening games has surely played a part in his decision making process here. Without Maguire they’re short of options that can play in a back-four and White’s versatility helps in that regard, as well as his familiarity with a three-at-the-back system with Brighton.
Ward-Prowse should count himself mightily unlucky not to be involved, but he would’ve been mine and many others’ pick too and deserves to be in the squad.
It’s a week on from when Gareth Southgate opted for a 33-man squad instead of the standard 26-man squad announcement for Euro 2020.
The England manager decided to go for a provisional squad due to Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City players all being involved in European finals between the announcement date and the final squad needing to be announced.
The big squad threw up a couple of shocks but largely the squad was what many expected it to be once it was announced that it would be extra large. But with seven names now going to be cut today, this is who shouldn’t make it to the European Championships.
The Sheffield United stopper endured a really rough season, conceding 63 goals and keeping just five clean sheets in 38 appearances in the Premier League as the Blades were relegated.
In reality this is the easiest decision Southgate has to make. The rules of the competition state that squads must contain three goalkeepers only (no more, no less) and there are several options ahead of Ramsdale. Nick Pope’s knee injury opened up an extra spot alongside Dean Henderson and Jordan Pickford but that role will surely go to Sam Johnstone.
The West Brom man was also relegated this season, but has been part of the England set up already this season and is certainly ahead of Ramsdale in the pecking order. Ramsdale’s call-up was essentially because of Henderson’s involvement in the Europa League final and they needed numbers, but he’ll be watching from home like the rest of us.
The Everton defender was one of a few shock call-ups to the squad after an impressive season with the Goodison Park club.
Playing as both a right-back or a centre-back in a back four or back three, Godfrey has shown great ability on the ball and positionally defensively. He has great pace, good strength and can more than hold his own in a one-on-one duel but also experience of the international setup as the captain of the Under-21’s squad.
While a senior call-up likely isn’t far away for the 23-year-old, this tournament will come too early for him. Judging by the rest of the squad and Southgate’s past selections, his regular centre-back choices are all fit and available and thus it’s unlikely that they break into the set up for the first time for a major tournament.
Much like Godfrey, Ben White was a shock call-up to the provisional squad after a great season with Brighton in the Premier League.
Having never represented England at any level in his career, White was called up after some solid performances under Graham Potter in a back three, as a right wing-back or even in midfield where his ability on the ball and tactical nous has helped him settle into the Premier League with ease.
His performances with Leeds the season before would also have got him noticed too and he’ll be in contention going forward for sure. But with Harry Maguire, John Stones, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady all available plus Kyle Walker to fill in if necessary, White will miss out on this occasion.
The biggest selection that Southgate has to make is which of the right-backs he’s going to cut from his squad.
Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier seem to be the names competing for two spots, with Walker seemingly sure of his spot. James has been excellent this season for Chelsea and topped his season off with a spectacular display in the Champions League final, while Trent overcame a tough start to the season to get back to near his best as he helped Liverpool into a third placed finish.
Trippier on the other hand was key as Atletico Madrid toppled the La Liga dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona to win their first title since 2013. It’s a tough decision granted, but for me it’s the former Spurs man who should miss out.
Walker is the best defender of the four options and Alexander-Arnold is by far and away the best attacking option of the lot and thus should be included. That leaves James and Trippier and for me, James’ potential mixed in with his level of performance should earn him a spot.
Unfortunately it seems as though Alexander-Arnold will be the man to miss out if reports are to be believed, but for me it’s time to look to the future and Trippier should be left at home.
If there is one area that England aren’t blessed with great options it’s central midfield and yet I still think they can make a cut in that area from this squad.
Southgate has so far opted for a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 system, meaning it’s rare we see more than two centre mids at any one time on the pitch for the Three Lions. Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice are sure-fire picks, while Kalvin Phillips has also been included regularly throughout the season. That leaves a fourth spot open for either Ward-Prowse or the phenom that is Jude Bellingham and for me it’s a no brainer.
Bellingham is only 17-years-old but he has an X-factor about him that means he is a true wildcard option for England. He’s played at the top level all year with Borussia Dortmund and stood out even there. He’s got the ability to play in a defensive capacity and has quality going forward too, meaning he’s one of those players you just can’t leave out if he’s fit.
Unfortunately for the Saints skipper it’ll likely be at his expense, but the game is the game.
On December 31st 2020 there was absolutely no chance that Lingard would have been in the Euro’s squad this summer. He’d not featured for Manchester United and even prior to that had struggled to make any sort of impact.
Then he joined West Ham on loan and exploded in the second half of the season, scoring nine goals and registering four assists in 16 appearances in the Premier League. He showed the quality that saw him become a major asset to England’s semi-final run at the 2018 World Cup and looked back to his best.
Great movement off the ball, excellent ball carrying ability, great work ethic and work rate but also an improved run in the production in the final third. Despite that good form though, England have had several attacking midfielders completely out-perform him this season.
Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden in particular are all capable of playing in his position at a higher level and for that reason there is no room for sentiment, so Lingard should be left at home.
A newly promoted striker spending his first season in the Premier League hitting 16 goals in 40 games is nothing to be frowned upon. But unfortunately for Ollie Watkins that just isn’t enough to get into this squad.
Great pace, a fantastic work ethic and the a good finisher, Watkins enjoyed a brilliant maiden campaign. Unfortunately for him though, Harry Kane is an undisputed starter up front and he didn’t have a better season than Everton’s striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin. While Watkins would hope his versatility and ability to play wide might help, England’s attack is just too stacked
Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Grealish and Foden are his competition and with the X-factor that Mason Greenwood has, he’s in the same boat as Bellingham in the sense that you can’t leave that quality at home for a major tournament.
West Ham United turned in a Jekyll and Hyde performance at the London Stadium as they blew a 3-0 lead against Arsenal to take away only a point from the game.
Jesse Lingard scored a screamer early on with a half volley into the top corner, before a quickly taken free-kick allowed Jared Bowen to score just a minute later to double the lead. Michail Antonio’s header was then touched in by Thomas Soucek to give the Hammers a 3-0 lead inside half an hour, leaving Arsenal stunned.
The Gunners pulled one back before half-time as Alexandre Lacazette’s strike deflected in off Soucek, making the Czech midfielder a goalscorer for both teams in the same half. Mikel Arteta’s side came flying out in the second half and forced a second own goal, this time from Craig Dawson to make it 3-2 after a great run from Calum Chambers, before Nicolas Pepe’s cross found Lacazette to head home an equaliser late on.
It was a real performance of two halves from West Ham, who came out and dominated in the first half then seemed to go into their shells and quiver as a win got closer and Arsenal fought back.
Lingard and Antonio were willing runners throughout but their decision making in the second half suffered greatly, with both men seeming to opt for individual glory rather than keeping possession or playing their teammates in.
Declan Rice was excellent in the first half, keeping the play ticking over and putting a halt to the Arsenal attacks in the middle of the pitch but in the second half he was an almost entirely different player.
Martin Odegaard dropped a bit deeper to help the central midfielders and Rice and Soucek couldn’t cope. The Norwegian was able to completely dictate the game and it was because of him that Arsenal sustained attacks for almost the entirety of the half.
He was able to turn in the half-spaces, beat players and find passes through the lines or out to the full-back that had West Ham retreating and panicking. While he ended the game with no goals or assists, for my money he was the man of the match with an influential second half.
It was a performance that was very different from what we’ve seen from West Ham this season, in a year where they’ve been incredibly consistent in their style and performances.
They currently sit in fifth place in the table, two points behind fourth placed Chelsea after this result with nine games to play. Many have tipped them to potentially break into the Champions League places based on their performances this season, but it now seems unlikely.
This performance is the reason why many also tipped them to eventually fall away earlier than now, because the quality in the side just isn’t quite there.
Finishing among those in the race is still an achievement for Moyes’ side based on pre-season expectations, but it will be disappointing how a game in which they should have wrapped up and seen off turned into them being relatively happy to come away with a point.
The level of performance throughout the season has been great for them and players like Lingard, Antonio and Rice have rightly earned themselves plaudits – but the lack of top level quality in them and around them is showing as we enter the final stretch of the season.
A picture perfect debut for Jesse Lingard as the new West Ham loanee scored twice in the Hammers’ 3-1 win over Aston Villa.
The 28-year-old started on his first appearance for the club since joining on loan from Manchester United in the January transfer window and made an immediate impact with a man of the match appearance.
He was lively throughout, making good runs off the ball and linking well with fellow attackers Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio. His energy was high, he looked to play forward as much as he could but he also showed an in-game intelligence that outshone the rest of his teammates.
The two goals sealed all three points for the Hammers and kept them in and amongst the top four race, but it also had some Manchester United fans talking about a potential return to the club already.
But people need to be careful what they wish for. This is the same player that recently went all the way through until the final minute of the last season before scoring or assisting a league goal in a Manchester United shirt.
The romance of an academy player being successful at your club, as a fan, is the greatest thing in football. There’s a reason United fans love Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood so much, or Arsenal fans love Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, or Chelsea fans are so happy with the amount of young talent in their first-team squad.
But it’s also that same sentiment that can often make a team hold on to a player for too long, even when they’re not good enough.
Lingard has had more than ample opportunity to put himself into the first-team picture at Old Trafford and what we’ve seen is the same thing over and over again.
He has a great football brain, his IQ is high and his thoughts are good. He just doesn’t have the ability to execute those thoughts to a high level often enough to make it at a top club. He’s capable of playing one-touch passes and his movement has always been good, but that final pass has always been lacking.
A club like West Ham is perfect for him for that reason. The pressure on him to deliver at an elite level isn’t there, because West Ham aren’t an elite side. Their setup is suited to him because teams are happy to attack against them, whereas for much of his time at Old Trafford even a draw is seen as a good result for the opposition.
With teams leaving more space in behind against them, he will get more chances to make an error but get another attempt later in the game. At Manchester United, you need to take those chances you’re given when teams make mistakes because their approach is likely to ensure those chances are few and far between.
Lingard has an outside chance of making the Euro 2020 squad, with Gareth Southgate a big fan of his. With regular football in a team that suits his strengths, Lingard has found the perfect environment for himself and his style.
United fans should be thankful that he continued to work hard during his time at the club and he’ll now likely make the club some money from a permanent transfer away.
But they don’t need to wish for him to return to the side, that ship has sailed.
Manchester United have finally agreed to allow Jesse Lingard to leave the club during this winter transfer window, with West Ham United looking the most likely destination.
Lingard has made just three appearances in all competitions for the Old Trafford club this season, and played for just 80 minutes since September, with each appearance coming in domestic cup competitions.
He was expected to leave last summer, but after discussions with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he stuck around believing that he would get more game time as a squad option than he has.
It means that he has become unhappy at the club where he came through as an academy graduate and has asked to leave, with regular game time needed at 28 years of age.
Manchester United were initially wary of loaning him out this winter, with the club aware of how hectic the fixture schedule is in the coming months. However the arrival of Amad Diallo has seen those fears eased, as the young Ivorian winger has impressed in training and has gone straight into the first-team picture.
This means Lingard has finally been given the green light to leave the club on a temporary basis, with West Ham leading the chase for his signature.
Hammers boss David Moyes managed Manchester United back in 2013/14, when Lingard was on the cusp of breaking through into the first-team. It’s said that he liked Lingard’s character and that his hard-working style will fit in with what he wants at the London Stadium.
West Ham are currently short in attack after letting Sebastian Haller join Ajax earlier this month, and their hunt for a back up striker has hit a snag with their prime targets being priced out of a move.
It’s possible that Moyes will use him as a winger in order to use Andriy Yarmolenko as a back-up striker to Michail Antonio, while Pablo Fornals has seen his form dip after an initial good start to the season.
With Jarred Bowen, Manuel Lanzini and Said Benrahma also among attacking options, as well as young Nigerian striker Mipo Odubeko coming through from the academy, Lingard will have competition for his place which is a positive for him.
They are competing well right now in the league, with their points total just seven points off the entirety they managed last season.
West Bromwich Albion are also interested in the signing of Lingard, and the fact West Ham already have two loanees in their squad could prove problematic. Said Benrahma is due to join permanently in the summer anyway, but they may need to make that happen now in order to get the player in.
Lingard’s hunger to get back playing will be seen as a positive and United will be hopeful that he will be able to help West Ham take points off their rivals during the remainder of the season.
Despite being evidently not good enough, United fans will be sad to see that is hasn’t quite worked out for Jesse at Old Trafford. Watching an academy graduate perform in the first team is every fan’s dream and his passion and love for the club has never been in doubt. He is popular among the first team in the dressing room and the coaching staff haven’t got a bad word to say about him.
His ability on the ball doesn’t match all of that though and the decision to let him leave is probably the right one.
Jesse Lingard is likely to leave Manchester United on loan this January, with his representatives already holding informal talks with clubs around Europe.
The attacking midfielder has fallen out of favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes at the club in January and this season has barely featured.
Lingard was linked with a move away in the summer after United completed the signing of Donny Van de Beek from Ajax, further pushing him down the pecking order.
Since the season begun, Lingard has featured twice during the League Cup campaign and nothing more. Not a single minute in the Premier League or Champions League.
Reports have now emerged that Lingard’s representatives have begun exploring a potential move away from the club, with a loan deal most likely.
According to some reports La Liga side Real Sociedad have emerged as a potential suitor for the 28 year old, who has 18 months left on his contract with the club.
His lack of playing time has also reportedly seen him attract interest from Scotland’s two big teams, as Celtic and Rangers look to strengthen their squads during the January window.
Lingard has also seen himself fall away from contention with the England squad, having been a regular starter in the side that finished fourth in the 2018 World Cup. He hasn’t been called up to the squad since October 2019 and doesn’t look like he’ll even be in the conversation for Euro 2020 next summer.
Currently behind all of Juan Mata, Daniel James, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Donny Van de Beek a move is likely the best option for Lingard.
A new league is arguably his best bet, with a fresh environment away from the fan’s eyes and without the pressure of representing Manchester United. A move away has done Andreas Pereira the world of good, with the Brazilian putting in some half-decent performances for Lazio since moving on loan to Serie A.
Lingard’s future is clearly away from Old Trafford, which as an academy graduate is definitely sad. But the club has moved on from him and for him to have a decent spell going forward, he should look to move away too.
With Champions League football secured, Manchester United are looking towards building a squad that can now compete for titles and trophies.
Following their win over Leicester on the final day, United finished 3rd in the Premier League but it was the 7th time in eight games that Ole Gunnar Solskjær had selected the same front six from the start.
The small drop in form towards the end of the campaign identified the clear issues the club currently have though. They have no quality in depth in attacking positions. In central midfield, United have Fred and Scott McTominay to come in for first-choice duo Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, which means a huge drop in quality if someone is unavailable. The same can be said for the more attacking positions in the squad.
Bruno Fernandes’ signing in January gave a huge boost of quality to the side, with the alternatives to him being Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard. On the wings, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are covered by Daniel James and Juan Mata while up front it’s a choice between Anthony Martial or Odion Ighalo.
Links to Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish, Marcus Edwards and Donny Van de Beek are all clearly looking to address those issues. But now there is a question mark over Jesse Lingard’s influence off the field.
The England international came on as a substitute in the final game of the season and when he tackled Kasper Schmeichel to roll the ball into an empty net in the 98th minute, it was the first time he’d scored a Premier League goal since December 2018, in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s first game as manager.
The reaction of the rest of the squad was telling too. Timothy Fosu-Mensah sprinted from the complete opposite corner of the pitch to celebrate with Lingard. Even David De Gea joined in the celebrations and could be seen having a bit of a moment with him following the goal.
At 27 years old, Jesse Lingard is at a point in his career where he’s probably not going to improve greatly as a player. But he also has a tonne of experience that can lend a hand to the younger players at the club. He’s scored in two cup finals for the club after coming through the academy, scored goals against Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal in important games and has played in Europe countless times. Not to mention he has played for England at a World Cup.
It’s also definitely not a coincidence that every time an academy player comes through into the first-team, they seem to name-check Lingard as a player who has helped make the transition better for them.
While he’s quite clearly not the level required for United, Solskjær has made no secret of the fact that he expects and demands a certain character from players in the squad too. It’s not all about ability, it’s also about personality. If Lingard is willing to be back-up and play here and there, he could be an asset to the side as a member of the squad. If he is intent on playing as much as possible, probably rightly so, then it’s time for him to leave.