Jesse Lingard is confident Manchester United can win trophies this season after winning the Community Shield on Sunday in Jose Mourinho’s first match in charge. Lingard scored a wonderful solo effort to open the scoring against Leicester, a slaloming run that left several defenders trailing in his wake before slotting calmly past Kasper Schmeichel. It was the forward’s second goal in successive Wembley appearances after his magnificent volley won the FA Cup for United back in May.
Scoring at Wembley means a lot to any player, but Lingard now joins an exclusive list of United stars who’ve scored in more than one game at the national stadium for the club in the same calendar year. Norman Whiteside, Bryan Robson, Mark Hughes and Eric Cantona are the others to achieve this feat, but Lingered is the first United player to do so for 20 years, since Cantona’s goals in 1996. Not bad for an academy graduate!
Now, though, Lingard is looking for more. After becoming an integral part of the first-team squad last season, the 23-year-old is keen to kick on and achieve even more with his boyhood club. In an interview with Inside United, Lingard spoke about his experiences last year and how we adjusted to life as a Manchester United player.
“I think confidence. After a few games, if you’re not scoring, your confidence can drop a bit but the players around me were great at helping me keeping that confidence up. To be able to come on and make a difference in the FA Cup final was very special.
“I think it’s the confidence thing again. There was always that aura about Old Trafford and playing in front of the fans in a massive stadium, which I used to think about.
“As a younger player, your first few games are always going to be nervy but my confidence grew the more I played there.”
After four different loan spells in the lower divisions, the Warrington-born forward was finally given his opportunity at United under Louis van Gaal. Although he made his real breakthrough last season, United fans will remember that van Gaal believed in Jesse right from the start of his tenure, handing Lingard his debut in the opening league fixture of the 2014/15 season; at home to Swansea.
Two years later and Lingard is finally maturing into the player many believed he could become. While fellow academy stars have fallen by the wayside, Lingard has remained patient and persistent. He’s been handed the no.14 shirt this season to reflect his growing importance at the club and it is pretty clear that he is not about to waste any time in the search for success.
“We want to be in the Champions League, of course, but our focus is on the title.
“My aim is to score over 10 goals and win at least two trophies. That would be a good season!”
Jesse Lingard has often received unfair criticism from Manchester United fans. Winning the FA Youth Cup alongside the likes of Paul Pogba, Adnan Januzaj, and Ravel Morrison often meant Lingard was overlooked when it came to analysing the next rising star at Old Trafford. Not as flashy as his teammates, it seemed those looking in from the outside often considered him hard-working enough, but certainly not talented enough to make it at United. After two stunning Wembley goals, and with confidence sky-high, I wonder if those doubters still question Lingard’s ability to make it at Manchester United.