Manchester United have been lauded for their youth system and rightfully so – it’s produced stars like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Marcus Rashford and countless others over the years.
Despite that, there’s also been a few players who stick around at the club that don’t seem up to standard. It might be fair to question whether players like John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Tom Cleverley and now Jesse Lingard are actually up to standard. It does seem doubtful that they would’ve been signed from other teams and allowed to stay so long, so the tendency to stick with the young players can backfire at times.
Lingard has been on a pretty dreadful run of form lately. He didn’t finish last season well and this year has seen him contribute a grand total of one assist and no goals over 16 games, and that assist came against Rochdale.
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For a team that likes to dominate and attack as much as Man United do, it shouldn’t surprise many that he’s starting to come under fire. The strikers have taken a lot of criticism this season, but they could point to a complete lack of service from the players in that number ten position.
A recent report from The Mirror has highlighted some quotes from Lingard about his activities off the pitch and how he doesn’t think they have influenced his form. A lot of fans may see him more on social media than they do on the pitch these days, so it’s understandable why that criticism has been directed at him.
Lingard said the following to try and play down those reports that his business interests were affecting him on the pitch, particularly in regards to his clothing business:
“I think people think I’m actually involved in everything. But I don’t pack the clothes and send them on. If you came home with me, you’d just think I’m boring. I just watch Netflix all day, all week. I don’t do much else.”
“There are a lot of things on social media, with people saying nasty things. You can’t get drawn into all that stuff.”
“For us as players, we’ve just got to get on with it and be thick-skinned. I love football. I love training, I love playing, I love the fans, the stadiums. I love everything about football. For me, I’m an out-and-out footballer.”
The report does go on to suggest that he feels he might be suffering from a lack of confidence and wants to get back to the form he showed when he first broke into the team.
He turns 27 next month so he isn’t a youngster anymore, these should be his prime years so if he doesn’t improve between now and the end of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could have a big decision to make over his future with the team.