Thu. Sep 24th, 2020

Man Utd

News

Manchester United might have a new left winger in Jesse Lingard

4 min read

Seven is not the only famed squad number vacant at Manchester United. Anthony Martial requested the nine and relinquished the 11 but Bruno Fernandes is not a winger.

Jadon Sancho is but seven is more suitable for a right winger and 11 is traditionally reserved for the dribbler on the opposite flank. A number of United players are due squad number upgrades ahead of next season but Daniel James is unlikely to switch from 21 to 11.

The 11 reflects a first-team status and James lost that privilege at Tottenham in June. Mason Greenwood was recalled five days later against Sheffield United when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer settled on a first XI with a fluid and unpredictable front three. Greenwood then plundered five goals in three Premier League games.

You would not begrudge Greenwood inheriting the 11. He is left-footed, after all, and unlikely to fall by the wayside as another academy forward, Adnan Januzaj, did after he received the number from Ryan Giggs. The left flank is not Greenwood’s forte and United lack an eminent alternative to Marcus Rashford other than Martial, now their outright top scorer.

Back when there were crowds and managers were not audible it was still possible to discern Solskjaer’s instructions to Greenwood against Newcastle on Boxing Day: move into the middle. Greenwood did and lashed in a deflected winner.

Solskjaer imparted similar words of wisdom to Jesse Lingard against LASK Linz. Lingard has played most of his career for United on the right when he is about as right wing as Jeremy Corbyn and, while more of a threat centrally, he is not a playmaker, either.

Juan Mata is but inexplicably spends an inordinate amount of time in the right-hand side and shortly before the 40-minute mark on Wednesday night Solskjaer changed things. James, utterly impotent, moved to the right, Lingard occupied the left and Mata the No.10 behind Odion Ighalo.

Lingard was told to come inside on more than one occasion and he was perfectly positioned to run onto Mata’s through pass for the second-half equaliser. Lingard celebrated with his branded celebration and that drew short shrift from Mata, eager for a swift restart.

Prior to the season’s resumption it was clear Lingard or Andreas Pereira would make up the numbers in the new 20-man matchday squads. When United had everyone fit, Lingard was on the bench for one out of six games and was not even asked to warm up at Tottenham. Pereira came on against Sheffield United and Brighton, was unused in the next three and cut for the trips to Crystal Palace and Leicester, as well as the home draw with West Ham.

Lingard’s 28 minutes at Selhurst Park last month were his first in the league since the first day of February and he had to contend with the weekend disappointment of an FA Cup semi-final squad omission. His goals against Leicester and LASK were meaningless in the context of both games but meaningful to a player who can finally say he has scored in successive matches for the first time in 20 months.

It made Lingard’s removal five minutes after scoring against LASK all the more perplexing and he was filmed shaking his head in disbelief. “When you get your chance in a game or even in training you’ve got a chance to prove yourself, prove your worth,” Solskjaer said. “I’ve known Jesse since he was a little kid and I know there’s a very good player there and a great personality to have around.

Lingard was unhappy about coming off
Lingard was unhappy about coming off

“He knows what we want from him and he knows he has to stand by the manager, whatever decision he makes. So I would be disappointed if he was happy coming off.

“He’s growing in confidence, worked really hard on his finishing – especially lately – and I’m very happy that he scored.”

There was a flicker of regression following the Leicester goal through the release of a backpack Lingard designed, which appears to have been inspired by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s lion tattoo. “When the collaboration came about it was a perfect moment for me to get involved. If anyone knows me, knows I like to be different and set new trends,” Lingard boasted. Going brand crazy has not helped his image in the last two years.

Lingard suddenly has as many goals as James this term and if he is to salvage his United career then he might have to play second fiddle to the friend he mentored. Just don’t expect him to have the squad number after Rashford’s.

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.