When Jesse Lingard scored his wonder goal in midweek against Watford to seal the three points for Manchester United, he silenced a lot of doubters. A goal of great quality, he displayed his influence and gave plenty a task of having to take back their own words. Following the announcement of the United team-sheet an hour prior to kick-off, there were many who were sceptical about Lingard lining up in the starting eleven. But at the end of the 90 minutes, he proved why he deserved a lot more respect than he receives.
Ever since his breakthrough into the first-team in the 2015/16 season under Louis van Gaal, Lingard has been unable to nail down a first-team spot, but whenever called upon, he has performed his task faithfully. He is never going to hit world-class levels but in his short first-team career, he has proven that he can cut it amongst a star-studded roster. Lingard doesn’t possess the traits that would make him stand-out, nor does he have a record that he can truly boast about, but the skillset that he does have makes him a valuable asset to many managers and teams.
It’s Time For Jesse Lingard To Get The Respect He Deserves
Perhaps the problem comes from the expectation of the general fanbase. Manchester United are known to have strong, commanding characters on their team, with many coming from their own production line as the likes of Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs have captivated the minds of the fans, but the expectation of an appealing footballer should not be generalised to all footballers, for the Jesse Lingard-types make up most of the roster, no matter how big the club or their budgets. A large majority of any fanbase always remembers the star names, and that neglects the importance of squad players.
Take for example Park Ji-Sung. He is an icon amongst the Old Trafford faithful who wore United red between 2005 and 2012. A player plagued with injury issues throughout his stint, he would step up when needed, and that was his legend. His record in the biggest games are great, and he is a fine example of the standard squad player.
Similarly, Lingard has always stepped forward on the big occasions. He kicked off his stunning spree with his wondergoal in the FA Cup Final of 2016 against Crystal Palace, followed that up with a great solo strike in the Community Shield three months later against Leicester City and in January this year, struck in the League Cup Final against Southampton – all three at Wembley.
The excellent goals on important nights don’t entirely make up his CV, for his playing style deserves praise too. Against Watford, he put in a starring display as his overall showing significantly improved a United attack. The side had been lacking inspiration, and now he is a strong contender to start against Arsenal today.
Statistically too, he has impressed, and he stands out ahead several players who should ideally be blossoming in the side. He has made the most of the time he gets on the pitch, as his three goals and four assists this season across all competitions means that he is involved in a goal for the club every 95 minutes – a record that eclipses the likes of Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata. Playing time makes a difference here, but his efficiency and effectiveness must not be neglected.
Squad players deserve respect and it is high time they get just that. Jesse Lingard is another player in the career-long search for gratitude and there are many across Europe’s top clubs. Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suárez have stepped up for Barcelona in the absence of superstar Ousmane Dembélé, while their rivals Real Madrid have seen the impact Lucas Vázquez and Nacho Fernández can have when called upon. As well, over in Germany, Bayern Munich proudly have players like Juan Bernat and the ever-reliable Rafinha on their payroll.
There’s a strong possibility that Lingard won’t ever get the same love as some of his team-mates. However, that won’t put him in his manager’s bad books, because he has a strong influence on his day. All athletes have their bad days, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad at what they do, and once again Lingard is an example of lazy, inaccurate generalisation. Jesse Lingard is important, he is a part of the essence that has made Manchester United what it is, and players like him deserve respect – especially from their own fans.