Jesse Lingard finally made his England debut, but what does the future hold for the player with many critics. Sir Alex Ferguson was spot on when he said “he (Lingard) will become a player at 22 or so”, but is he really good enough now to be a first team player at Manchester United?
Lingard may have made this late transition into first team football, but he also has quite some experience on his hand, having had plenty of loans at Championship level and having scored some big goals already; most notably when he volleyed home the winner in the FA Cup Final.
Prior to Mourinho’s arrival though, I didn’t expect Lingard to feature much, with him being a squad player at most, but that’s no longer the case. I now believe that Mourinho has found a much better role for him in the team. Despite his absolutely shocking display in the Manchester derby, Lingard has stepped up his game and he’s quietly gone under the radar with some very impressive performances. It has mainly been his off the ball movement which has caused defences many problems and allowed more space for players such as Mata and Zlatan to work their magic. His movement was also noticeably good in the England game, even if most of us were half asleep watching it!
If you look back on the Leicester game you’d probably think about how Mata and Herrera bossed the game with Rashford also making an impact as the team played with a high intensity and tempo. Lingard would probably be the last person on your mind, but had Rooney played instead then we wouldn’t have witnessed such an exciting performance. It’d be hard to deny that Rooney’s not the player he used to be and for quite a few seasons now he has been lethargic on the pitch and a negative influence to the way we play. (Mourinho has just been the first manager with the balls to drop him since Fergie’s retirement!) Lingard’s energy though made a huge difference, and although he didn’t do anything special in the Leicester game, he was certainly crucial to such a demolition, as had he not played then maybe Mata wouldn’t have found so much space to cause so many problems.
I won’t be the only one with doubts though as Lingard’s consistency tends to be poor and he can be incredibly frustrating to watch as he misses chance after chance. However, as Mourinho seems to be a fan of him and seems willing to make him an important first team player, this could change. He has shown his talent and ability, but now is the time for him to really push for a starting place and perform on a consistent basis. If he works hard to improve this area of the game and does so with the right guidance, then we could have some player on our hands! What do you think though? Does Lingard really have a future at Manchester United or is he destined to end up at Sunderland?
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