Many people criticized Jose Mourinho’s inclusion of Jesse Lingard on Manchester United’s left-wing as United shipped two goals to lose to Manchester City. However, news today reports that he is on the verge of signing a new four-year contract, despite the fact he was substituted at halftime after a poor performance. Lingard, among United fans, is a divisive player, but the board at United reportedly has faith in him and wants to award him a new contract.
Lingard ultimately won the hearts of United fans with his winning volley in the FA Cup Final, and he continued such fine form in front of goal in the Community Shield. Making the grade as a youngster on the left-wing, Louis van Gaal promoted him to the first team on the opposite wing (for the most part), which presumably explains why he struggled for the majority of his time on the pitch during the derby. With great dribbling skills and immense versatility, Lingard could’ve scored 15 goals if not for his poor finishing, but instead, he ended up with just six.
There is much debate as to whether or not Lingard is good enough- or will be in the future- to play for United on a regular basis. His moments of magic are surreal, but playing on the right (the only position in which he gets to play), he looks unable to have an impact on goal, and playing on the left, he seems to struggle in wider areas. Normally, a player of his quality would be welcomed with open arms at United, but the competition for places is immense and Lingard may be surplus to requirements later on.
Playing on the right side of a 4-2-3-1, Lingard is effective, but I personally think he is better on the right side of central midfield in a midfield three. Lingard’s defensive work is immense and in a midfield three, he can pick up the ball and run at opponents and have a greater influence on the match. Once again, though, United will not switch to a 4-3-3 due to the presence of Wayne Rooney.
I think Lingard could work in a midfield three alongside Pogba and in front of, perhaps, Ander Herrera, in smaller games, and if Mourinho is going to switch to a 4-3-3, and bench Rooney, Lingard could begin to play his best football. He doesn’t warrant a four-year contract in my opinion, but he does deserve a new contract of a shorter length to prove his worth by the age of 25 or 26. Failing to do that, though, the likes of Adnan Januzaj and Andreas Pereira will be returning from loan next season, and Januzaj has been playing relatively well for Sunderland at the tip of a 4-4-2 Diamond formation.
The likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are looking far more assured than Lingard at younger ages. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the best outfield player at the club, Wayne Rooney won’t leave and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a world class footballer. That leaves the likes of Ashley Young, Memphis, Lingard, Januzaj, Pereira and Juan Mata. If United is trying to win the Champions League and wants to do so under Mourinho, improvements will need to be made (it is not debatable that this side doesn’t contend for the Champions League, good as it is).
In this year’s squad, there is only room for nine of the eleven aforementioned footballers at the club, and if the attack is going to improve, only seven or eight of those specific eleven will likely be a part of the squad next season. Five of them seem predetermined, and Memphis will probably be given another year, meaning that, logically, only two of Young, Lingard, Januzaj, Pereira, and Mata will be at the club next year. Does Lingard deserve to be one of those two?