Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard has admitted that he has not been pushing himself this season. This is exactly what we have seen when watching him play football this season. Granted, his off the field activity has been tumultuous but not everyone has the perfect life away from work and if we don’t pull an effort, we get sacked.
The 27-year-old should be in the peak period of his career but it looks like that period has come and gone for him and now he could be at risk of losing it all at United. If so, he will only have himself to blame for his own performances, which were not enough to warrant him a place in the squad this season but injury to others left him with a place anyway.
With the Premier League working to return on the 17 June, which will become a few days later for United when the fixtures are confirmed, Lingard will be seeking that extra chance to find his feet and prove himself at the club. However, it will be a tough task for him now that Bruno Fernandes has arrived and Paul Pogba is now fit.
Lingard has been linked with an Old Trafford exit this summer with his current contract expiring in the summer of 2021, although there is the option to extend that contract for another year. Lingard will be looking to show manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, that he can be trusted to pull up his socks and prove himself in the squad.
Speaking on Adidas Home Team’s The Huddle, the 27-year-old spoke about finishing the season, having the right attitude and hunger and a thirst for trophies. This is all well and good but it is only actions that speak louder than words and anyone believing words without actions are not going to get what they are promised. Lingard said:
“Finishing a season, it feels like a mini-season for me, so to go back in, like I say, flying from the get-go, in which I feel good and then, obviously, for next season to just carry on.
“I have the right attitude, I have the right desire, I have the right hunger to win games to play for United to obviously win trophies which is one of the most important things.
“I think we can get there, we all need to push each other to new heights, day in, day out in training.
“So I don’t see why we can’t take it into the game too.
“But trophies are the main thing and individual targets like goals and assists, I have a lot else that I target before the season because I do that anyway but last season, for some reason I didn’t set any targets.
“My mind wasn’t there, I wasn’t really pushing myself. It felt like it weren’t me. You feel like when you watch yourself you’re like ‘that’s not Jesse.’
“I know who I am and my family know who I am, I know how I play and, like I say, I didn’t really push myself last season.
“So this season I’m gonna have targets, I’m gonna have goals that I need to hit, individually and as a team as well.”
Lingard went a year without scoring a goal in the Premier League and this season, despite making a total of 35 appearances so far, he has scored just two goals with two further assists – which is not something that will get him the starting position in the team the he desires. Lingard will be left with a lot to do, otherwise his future at United will be at risk.
I do believe that he should be given a chance, and the remainder of the season being played will be that chance. That should give Solskjaer and the club enough to understand whether the player’s final year of his contract should be added, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2022, then if he does well, a new contract could be offered.
However, the bar will have ben set very high at United now, especially if Pogba does end up staying at the club. It would be hard to see Lingard forcing either him or Fernandes out of the team, as the Portuguese midfielder has done more than Lingard in his nine appearances so far this season. Time to stand up and be counted, Lingard.