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Jesse Lingard is a team player and deserves more recognition from Manchester United supporters

Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard has been praised by manager Jose Mourinho for his efforts in the 3-1 victory over Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday evening. Lingard scored a brace, his first in the 11th minute of the match and his second in the 63rd minute, restoring United’s two-goal cushion in the match. United closed the gap to just five points with rivals Manchester City beating West Ham United 2-1 at the Etihad on Sunday evening, restoring that eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

United hung on to claim the victory over Arsenal despite Paul Pogba being sent off in the 74th minute for a challenge on Hector Bellerin. Lingard has had a great week, restoring United’s two-goal cushion against Watford on Tuesday evening, resulting in a 4-2 victory, then scoring his brace against Arsenal, meaning he had scored three goals in the same week. Mourinho, reported by Sky Sports speaking about Lingard, said:

“He played well. 

“He did what the team needed him to do, defensively and also in terms of going into finishing areas.

“We worked pre-season well and hard about playing sometimes with three at the back, sometimes four.

“When we play with two strikers we need people from the midfield that can arrive in finishing situations and that’s what Jesse did for us.”

The victory over Arsenal was an end to their 12-game home winning run in the league and was the North London club’s fifth defeat of the season. Lingard will be fired up to play for his side in the first Manchester derby of the season. Lingard has scored a hat-trick of goals this week and looking at his highlight reel, it will make him look like a contender for the Ballon d’Or after scoring some crucial goals for the club in the last two years alone. Speaking after the Arsenal victory and reported by the official Manchester United website, Lingard said:

“The early goal settled everyone’s nerves and it’s great to have David [De Gea] behind us in goal. We can rely on him and trust him. Our defence was really stable today and we defended really well.”

This season, Lingard has made 18 appearances for United, starting seven times, coming off the bench 11 times. He has scored six goals, three in the Carabao Cup and three in the Premier League. Four assists have been made by the player, three in the Premier League and one in the Carabao Cup. Lingard has had 22 shots on goal, 12 of those being on target – a 54% shooting accuracy. These may not be the statistics of a prolific goalscorer but they are the stats of a player giving his all for the club he plays for. This should be accepted by all supporters.

It makes me wonder if those who do not rate Lingard actually celebrate his goals, as the bile they proliferate about the player should not result in praise for any goals, at least not in my opinion anyway. Logic would dictate just that too. But still, in football, logic is usually missed as if someone has an option, especially on Football Twitter, if you do not match that opinion, you are attacked by a bunch of children who have nothing better to do. Jesse Lingard is a Manchester United player, that will not change while he has the support of the manager – he will have that as long as he keeps on trying.

Jesse Lingard relishing Real challenge during pre-season

Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard has stated that he hopes the Old Trafford club can look back at previous matches and beat Real Madrid on their pre-season tour of the United States of America which will commence on Sunday when the squad departs Manchester for Los Angeles. It won’t be the last time United face the Madrid club this summer though with the UEFA Super Cup set to be played in Macedonia on the 8th August where the UEFA Champions League holders will be pitted against United, the holders of the UEFA Europa League.

United will play Real Madrid later this month at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, where they beat Barcelona with Lingard on the scoresheet the last time they played in the stadium in the summer of 2015. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Warrington-born Lingard said:

“We’re used to playing top teams in pre-season, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, and it’s always a good experience. Hopefully, we can perform well in those games and take good form into the new season. Every tour game is important, even if it’s just to build match fitness, and it’s good that everyone can get a run out and get a taste of what it’s like and take that forward. 

“It’ll be good to be back playing at that stadium. I remember the team we had in the second half [in the 3-1 win over Barcelona in 2015] was quite a young team, including myself, Andreas Pereira, Adnan Januzaj, Tyler Blackett and James Wilson, but we linked up really well and got the win.

“This year, I’m most looking forward to the games themselves and building team spirit with the lads. Pre-season tours are good for bonding with each other, and in our free time there’s the chance to go out and explore.”

Lingard can cast his mind back to the 2016/17 season where United won the FA Community Shield, then went on to lift the first piece of major silverware in beating Southampton to lift the EFL Cup, now the Carabao Cup and then on that day in May, beat Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm to lift the UEFA Europa League, the first time United have lifted the trophy, not for the want of trying, back when it was called the UEFA Cup, of course. Lingard scored at Wembley in the Community Shield against Leicester City, also scoring in the EFL Cup final, making it his third time scoring a goal at Wembley after scoring in the Emirates FA Cup final the previous season. When asked about what came to his mind during pre-season, Lingard concluded by saying:

“Running! Last summer, we did a lot of work with the ball but we were still running, so we had the best of both. I think there were a lot of positives last season. The manager’s got us well drilled, which we need to take into next season, and if we can add more goals to our game to get wins instead of draws, I don’t see why we can’t be challenging.”

The pre-season will be a good one for United. It will be the first pre-season for Paul Pogba, signing for the club just before the Premier League season started last season, not even having a pre-season with Juventus. Victor Lindelof, the club’s first signing this summer will play his first matches, against some great teams and Romelu Lukaku, if his deal crosses the line, will make his first appearances in a Manchester United shirt. There could be some other changes too with United also linked to Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic and Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, but Wayne Rooney may have left the club before United kick a ball against LA Galaxy on Saturday 15th July 2017.

Consistency is the key for younger players says Meulensteen

Rene Meulensteen, a former coach at Manchester United during the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken about consistency amongst the young players being the key to them earning much bigger roles at the club. The likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, and Jesse Lingard were mentioned by the Dutchman, all of whom has performed well, but not consistently during the past season. Martial is a player who excited United supporters during his debut season, but in his second season, he was not the same threat. This could have been down to tactics, adapting to a new manager of things which were developing in his private life.

Marcus Rashford is another player mentioned, one who has surprised many during the last season and a half, introducing himself with a brace in both his UEFA Europa League and Premier League debuts, continuing that rise to fame and earning his place in Jose Mourinho’s team last season although he was playing out of position for a large part of the season with Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing as the main striker. at least until injury curtailed his season and quite possibly his United career. Rashford is a decent player, but consistency is something which he will need in order to become the main striker at the club, which is in his remit and certainly something which will come with experience.

Jesse Lingard is another player talked about by the former United coach, a player who seems to be hated by many and appreciated by few, but he can still do much for his club, scoring three goals at Wembley in just over a year, two of which helped United lift major honours; the Emirates FA Cup and the EFL Cup, also scoring in the FA Community Shield, another trophy United picked up at the start of the season. Lingard may never be that player who will be likened to Cristiano Ronaldo and the like, but he does have his uses – consistency though is something which is needed for him to play a much bigger part for United. Meulensteen, speaking exclusively to 888sport, said:

“Jose Mourinho has played Anthony Martial a few times down the middle but the thing with him is there is a difference in playing in the Premier League and playing for Manchester United. You have to turn up every single game and not put in a few good minutes. This is what these young players have to come to terms with. They have to reach a level where, no matter their form, they have to make a difference. That is the standard required for Manchester United and Mourinho will now be expecting this from his players, not only Martial but Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. They have to ensure that they perform week in, week out when they’re called on.”

If Mourinho can get the likes of Martial, Rashford, and Lingard all playing consistently to a good standard, all three will have great futures at the club. Lingard is the one who may always be a peripheral figure at the club with the former both exciting players who can change a game, providing they post put in the effort, which with Rashford seems to come naturally, but with Martial needs to be tempted out of him, most of the time at least. This coming pre-season and the new season which will follow it will be important for the trio and other youth players when given the chance to earn their place in the team. Consistency is the main thing needed to become a player that offers a lot to the team.

Read the full 888sport interview with Rene Meulensteen, including his thoughts on how Morata should be Mourinho’s top target this summer.

Manchester United Player Season Review 2016/17: The Midfield

Manchester United did not have the best of seasons during the 2016/17 campaign which commenced in high spirits with Jose Mourinho replacing Louis van Gaal as the manager, with the Portuguese former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager bringing in Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba as his four summer signings, Pogba being the current world record signing which could be eclipsed and even surpassed this summer if reports are to be believed. Mourinho had instilled the winning mentality into his new club just weeks after be became the manager, pushing for big changes from the start of the season. United started off by beating Leicester City to win the FA Community Shield, the first of many trophies under Mourinho, which turned out the be the case only in the first season.

United started well in the league, winning their first three matches, but a three-match losing streak then turned the season upside down, losing two Premier League matches and one in the UEFA Europa League. United found their feet again, but the ups and downs kept coming. Too many draws in the Premier League, most of them at home became a problem for United, which contributed in their sixth-placed finish, a first for the club who had finished seventh (David Moyes), fourth and fifth (Louis van Gaal) post-Sir Alex Ferguson. The season had a different feeling to it though, something was being built for the future, Mourinho was bringing United back to the helm just like Ferguson did in the 1990’s.

Of course, Rome was not built in a day, but things are changing. United ended the season with two more trophies; the EFL Cup, beating Southampton 3-2 at Wembley at the end of February and the UEFA Europa League, beating Ajax 2-0 in Sweden, more importantly earning a UEFA Champions League group stage place next season, the minimum requirement for Mourinho and his team. The season reviews have been written for the Premier League, EFL Cup, Emirates FA Cup, and the UEFA Europa League now it is the player’s turn to be reviewed and rated, now the midfielders.

Paul Pogba

The £89 million man had a bad season according to his critics with their mentality being that he cost that much so should be scoring 189 goals, assisting 1001 times and keeping 250 clean sheets a season. A transfer fee does not dictate how many goals a player will score. Some suggest he should be a striker for the money paid. I don’t get why they get involved in conversations clearly above their mentality at the end of the day. Paul Pogba has been consistent despite changing from the Serie A to the Premier League, which is a much different league but still keeping his personal stats on par with the past four seasons at Juventus. Some will never appreciate Pogba and what he does for his club. Those people need to learn to accept that they have no control in any factor concerning the player but they won’t.

Appearances: Premier League: 30, Emirates FA Cup: 2, EFL Cup: 4, UEFA Europa League: 15, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 51

Goals: Premier League: 5, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 3, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 9

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 10, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Juan Mata

The Spaniard was set to be the first player out of the door when Jose Mourinho was named the manager of the club, based on the opinion that he sold him at Chelsea so would do the same. That did not happen and Juan Mata became an important player throughout the season. Mata suffered an injury late on into the season with Mourinho ruling him out for the remainder, but he returned week after an operation, showing the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who were still on the sidelines after seven weeks from suffering their injuries in March whilst on England duty. Mata played 41 times this season, winning three trophies, two of them major honours, scoring ten goals, which was much-needed form the midfield during the course of the season. United need to be scoring more goals from midfield, with this summer’s acquisitions important into commencing that. Mata could well remain at United after this summer, he should at least.

Appearances: Premier League: 25, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 3, UEFA Europa League: 10, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 41

Goals: Premier League: 6, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 2, UEFA Europa League: 2, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 10

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 5, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard is a player who has offered a lot for his club over the last few seasons, scoring in the Emirates FA Cup final, the FA Community Shield and in the EFL Cup final, something he should be celebrated for, but for some reason, supporters don’t see what he offers the team. They seem to think he is not good enough and certainly not worth of a pay rise or a new contract, which he signed earlier in the season. Lingard may not be a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque player, he has something to offer. Many choose not to see it. He may not be a guaranteed starter, and next season with new additions coming, he may not be, but as a squad player, he has something to offer, until at least he leaves the club or does something special to become a starter. Sir Alex ferguson said he would be a late developer, of which he was. Perhaps he should be given a better crack of the whip.

Appearances: Premier League: 25, Emirates FA Cup: 2, EFL Cup: 4, UEFA Europa League: 10, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 42

Goals: Premier League: 1, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 2, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 5

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 6, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Michael Carrick

The veteran midfielder will race the pitch against in the coming season, signing a new contract at the Old Trafford club over the past few weeks. Michael Carrick has been the midfielder that United would not want to lose over the past season, calm and assured on and off the ball, putting in the effort needed, the majority of the time at least, which United needed in order to control the midfield. Carrick is an important player, one which when Paul Pogba plays too, sees the Frenchman able to play in a more advanced position, adding something else to United’s team. Carrick will play for another year at least, then United will have to find his replacement if he does not arrive at the Old Trafford club this summer.

Appearances: Premier League: 23, Emirates FA Cup: 2, EFL Cup: 5, UEFA Europa League: 7, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 38

Goals: Premier League: 0, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 0, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 1

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 1, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Ashley Young

Ashley Young is probably a player who will be allowed to leave the Old Trafford club this summer. He does have some teams interested in signing him. He has done well over the past season, despite playing a more defence minded position, playing in both the left-back and right-back positions, helping his team with what they needed. Only 23 appearances will not impress him, at the stage of his career, he will need to be a starter, which could see him leave for China, Turkey or even a lower ranked Premier League club. He was wanted by Watford in January, a former club of his before he signed for Aston Villa.Young was not a player many wanted to see at the club, especially after losing Cristiano Ronaldo, but to give him his dues, he has scored some important goals, playing some important parts at the club. This season saw him end it on the sidelines through injury, which would have irked him a little.

Appearances: Premier League: 12, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 7, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 23

Goals: Premier League: 0, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 0, UEFA Europa League: 0, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 0

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 5, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Ander Herrera

The Spanish midfielder has found his purpose this season under Jose Mourinho. Ander Herrera has played a much deeper role, marking players like Eden Hazard and helping United find some form this season, beating Chelsea 2-0 at Old Trafford from probably his best match for the club in three years. Herrera is wanted by Barcelona if you believe the transfer reports in the newspapers, but the player wants to remain at Old Trafford, which has been said by his own mind and mouth. United’s midfield is much better with him in it, now that he has seemingly found his purpose. Herrera, Paul Pogba, and another midfielder will do well for United, Pogba being allowed to do what he does, not having to continually drop back and defend the midfield, using his creative aspect for the game instead. Herrera is a crucial player for United, offering everything he needed to offer, doing what he needed to do. I am sure Hazard still has dreams about him marking him out of the game, something he was unable to get through during that match.

Appearances: Premier League: 31, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 6, UEFA Europa League: 9, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 50

Goals: Premier League: 1, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 0, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 2

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 5, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Marouane Fellaini

The Belgian had a mixed season. Jose Mourinho trusts him and he trusts Mourinho. That is something we shall have to get used to should he remain at the Old Trafford club this season. Marouane Fellaini has played his part for much of the season, scoring some important goals, but he has helped undo the work United have put in, that late penalty he gave away against Everton which turned what was looking to be a 1-0 victory, into a 1-1 draw. Fellaini offers aggression and physicality in the midfield, also playing well on the attack, offering height and an eye for a goal, especially from a header. That seems to be something that many will not congratulate him for because he arrived under David Moyes, was the only summer signing of that season and was not the player many wanted. I like Fellaini for what he offers, as over the past few seasons he has done some good things, but United do need much better than him in midfield, especially for Paul Pogba to be played to his strengths.

Appearances: Premier League: 28, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 5, UEFA Europa League: 10, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 47

Goals: Premier League: 1, Emirates FA Cup: 1, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 1, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 4

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 9, Red Cards: 1

Season Rating: 4/5

Marcus Rashford has been amazing, says Jesse Lingard

Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard has stated that his teammate and fellow Academy graduate Marcus Rashford is ‘amazing’. Rashford took the plaudits on Thursday night in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg against Celta Vigo at the Balaídos in Spain after scoring a sublime free-kick in the 67th of the match, something that was reminiscent of a David Beckham free-kick, beating the Celta Vigo goalkeeper and giving United that all-important away goal in the tie, which should help them to some extent on Thursday evening at Old Trafford, providing United maintain a shutout on the Spanish side.

Both Rashford and Lingard worked together to create the goal with Rashford lining up with Daley Blind to take the free-kick, with the Dutch international running across the ball as a deterrent and Rashford striking the ball goalwards. Before the kick, Lingard was told by Rashford to ‘move out of the way’ with the fellow attacker seemingly knowing what was coming from the set-piece, something Rashford has been taking a lot of this season, perfecting his abilities to become an all-round forward, something he wanted to achieve, similar to Lionel Messi and even Cristiano Ronaldo. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Lingard said:

“He’s been amazing and he’s come tremendously far. It’s all about hard work and dedication, you know – he’s just got to keep going now. Hopefully, if we get to the final, he can score again. He’s been put on set pieces lately, and he told me to move out of the way when he was taking it, so I did. I think it helped put the goalkeeper off because he took a step to his left and that opened up the space for Marcus to score. With me, Rashy and Mkhitaryan going forward, I think we exploited the space against Celta Vigo and counter-attacked really well. I think having that pace can be important.”

United are just 90 minutes, or 120 with or without penalties if you want to look at it that way, from a UEFA Europa League final in Sweden. United face Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates this afternoon, Lingard spoke about his teammates being ‘in good spirits’ ahead of the match, with United having to putt off a job in the capital in order to continue their chance of breaking into the top four in the league this season, which is what they need to earn a UEFA Champions League place, seemingly with a chance to do the same by winning the Europa League this season. Lingard, speaking about the confidence in the team, said:

“I think everyone is confident. We want to go on and win the competition. Obviously, we’re still fighting in the Premier League as well, but we’ve got to pull together as a squad now and kick on. When you win during the week, taking that into the game at the weekend is important for your confidence. We’ll have to be ready for Sunday, it’s another tough game. Every game from now until the end of the season is massive and we’re going to treat them all like a final. Hopefully,  we can kick on.”

United have had a good season, starting off with the FA Community Shield victory over Leicester City. The start of the Premier League season was good also, but three defeats in a row in the league and the Europa League set a precedent, meaning United lost their early confidence. Steering things around, United got back to winning ways, earned a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League, went all the way in the EFL Cup, beating Southampton at Wembley. United last lost a Premier League match in October, at the hands of Chelsea, meaning it has been 25 matches unbeaten in the league since, a new record for the club in one season. Continuing that today against Arsenal will be important.

copyright: JW