|Jesse Lingard celebrating scoring against Leicester City in the final Premier League game in the 2019/20 season. Source: Getty Images|
Name: Jesse Lingard
Date of Birth (Age): 15 December 1992 (age 27)
Signed: 1st June 2011
Appearances This Season: 40
Contract till: 30th Jun 2021
Lingard only started nine Premier League games with the 13 appearances coming as a substitute. He had gone all season without scoring or getting any assist in the league so when he had scored the all-important second goal in the final game against Leicester, you could see what it had meant to him, his teammates, Ole and the backroom staff looking on from the bench.
During his time with us, he has played predominantly in a 4-2-3-1 formation whether it is being a central attacking midfielder, left or right side of the midfield. With United’s attacking system, Lingard drifts into any of these three positions as he looks to get into pockets of space on the pitch.
He tends to favour coming in from the left so he can use his right foot to find a pass to a teammate in space or look to shoot from the edge of the box towards the goal. It is Lingard’s work off the ball that he must be noted for as this gives the freedom to United’s more creative players to find those killer balls and make runs into the free space on the pitch.
Before Bruno Fernandes’s arrival back in January, Paul Pogba was probably only United’s creative force and this had meant Lingard had struggled on the pitch at times to influence it with goal contributions. When Lingard gets the ball, he is able to accelerate quickly and find a teammate in a space to pass or cross to. His ability to be always on the move means United can cut through the midfield and open the opposition lines. Lingard is intelligent with the runs he makes without the ball. However, when he does have the ball he has much greater control and is confident.
Over the last couple of years, his form dropped since he played in the World Cup back in 2018. With a lack of goals and few assists, it has resulted in concerns that his influence on the pitch was dwindling. Back in the 2017/18 season, he made 42 appearances in all competitions, scored 13 goals and provided 7 assists. It was thought he would kick on from there and really cement his position in the side for years to come, however it has not quite worked out like that.
To give some context as to why Lingard has not been the player we know and love this season. He has been dealing with issues on the field as he revealed back in December to the Sportsmail, that he was looking after his siblings whilst caring for his daughter when his mother became ill.
He had been keeping these issues private and when his form on the pitch was dipping, he said he had to tell the manager Ole what was going on. He told the Sportsmail, “I wasn’t performing and he was on me all the time. He wanted more from me. So I felt it was best to get everything off my chest and tell him why my head wasn’t right. So I knocked on his door. I am normally quite bubbly and want to put smiles on people’s faces but people have seen the change in my ways.”
He also said, “I have been down and glum; just worrying. I felt like everybody just passed all the stuff to me and it weighed on my shoulders. It was like, here you go Jesse, you deal with this on your own.”
He knew he was on borrowed time at United after his indiscretion when manager Ole criticised him for his social media activity last summer after he posted a crude video. This had led to questions of him being unprofessional. If he did not say anything about the issues he was facing in private, then he would be gone. His chat with Solskjaer was turning a point as staff at United had said that the only thing that seemed different about Jesse was his form on the pitch and did not realise what he had been going through.
Overall – 5/10
Ambitions for next season –
With the arrival of Bruno Fernandes and the emergence of Mason Greenwood, Lingard has gone further down the pecking order within the squad. With United looking to bring in new players for the 2020/21 with Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho being hotly tipped to join us as well as Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, it could signal the exit door for Lingard.
He was once a promising youngster waiting for his chance to get into the side but now at 27, he is no longer the breakthrough talent. It may be that Lingard needs a fresh start elsewhere and there could be a number of clubs who would be interested in signing him.
I believe he still has a role to play at the club but as a squad player. However, Lingard is entering the final year of his contract though United do have the option to extend it by another year. If he does stay and for him to get back into the side, he needs to up his creativity and the output he produces.