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Jesse Lingard: Another great Manchester United product


A couple of months back, Manchester United’s proud record of a youth-team player being included in the match-day squad in every game since 1937 looked to be at risk. Only the presence on the bench of unused substitutes Paddy McNair and Sam Johnstone kept the sequence going when young star Adnan Januzaj had been packed off on loan to Borussia Dortmund, Andreas Perreira was being unable to show consistency and the arrival of Antony Martial had pushed young striker James Wilson out of the squad. The way United have been splashing money around lately it appeared to be only a matter of time before that proud old record was broken too – yet another age-old tradition becoming a casualty in this corporate behemoth of a club. Enter: Jesse Ellis Lingard.

To be frank, Lingard was always touted to be a good player (it is too early to use the word ‘great’). In the past 3 pre-seasons he has shown excellent form and has starred during the summers in a team that comprised players like Van Persie, Rooney and senior wingers Ashley Young and Nani. In fact, in 2014, when Louis Van Gaal took over the reins at Old Trafford, Jesse Lingard had the highest number of goals to his name for the club during pre-season.

The 22-year-old winger, amazingly United’s longest-serving player having been at the club since the age of seven, has finally broken into the Dutchman’s first team and capped his arrival with a stunning second-half strike in front of the Stretford End, on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion. After a lively performance in the midweek victory over CSKA Moscow (where he also provided a sublime assist for his captain to score), Lingard produced the key moment of quality in the weekend win over West Brom. Trapping the ball with his studs, he proceeded to deliver a measured finish that guided the ball into the bottom corner of Boaz Myhill’s net and ended United’s 260-minute wait for a Premier League goal.

Again, such quality from such a young player is not surprising given the impact that Lingard made in his first ever professional start. Sent on loan to Birmingham by then United manager David Moyes, he scored all four goals in Birmingham’s 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in September 2013. The first three goals came in a 13-minute blitz. And yet, intriguingly, Birmingham’s then assistant manager Terry McDermott was impressed by Lingard’s attitude as much as his quality. He had this to say about the boy from Warrington – “What I like about him is that he is laid-back, nothing fazes him. Before the game he just sat there for an hour hardly speaking. He went on to the pitch as if he was just playing another game with his mates at school. It wasn’t as if he was playing in the Conference.”

Jesse Lingard is Manchester United through and through. Perhaps his post-match comments some up his attitude towards his beloved club. When asked how it felt when the ball hit the net, Lingard said –

‘It was pure happiness. My family were here and it put a smile on their faces as well. My mum, my brother, dad and girlfriend — they are really proud of me. They are all United fans. I think my girlfriend has taped it so I will watch it again later. To come through the ranks and play for your boyhood club is a dream come true. It’s a great experience.’



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