Jesse Lingard has proven West Ham United coach Stuart Pearce wrong with his heroics this afternoon.
The England international was a villain of sorts during the week when his horrific backpass handed Young Boys the win against United in their Champions League group stage opener.
But it was a different story today as he returned to former loan club West Ham, scoring an 89th minute winner.
Lingard buried a superb strike in the top corner after cutting inside just inside the box, and United couldn’t have hoped for a better winner.
The midfielder didn’t start the game, but he made all the difference off the bench, and that’s the kind of role he has settled for this season having rejected the chance to return to West Ham on a permanent move.
Hammers coach Pearce recently criticised that decision, telling talkSPORT: “He’s [Lingard] missed the opportunity to leave [Man] United in this transfer window.
“He can reassess his situation come January once again and decide whether there’s an opportunity to move clubs, he holds the cards, Jesse.
“The most important thing for him at the moment is his football and he’s playing the odd game for United and also playing extremely well for England and those performances for England might help him get in the United side.
“I think he’s too good a player to be sat on the outside of it not playing and he’s at an age where he needs to be playing.”
In terms of regular football, Pearce might be right, but the former Man City boss does fail to value the kind of impact Lingard can make even with reduced minutes.
If he can make this kind of impact off the bench, not only is he going to get more regular starts, but he is going to be far more content, knowing he is making a difference in big games, at the top end of the table, and working alongside a childhood hero in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Performances like this one, even off the bench, are also going to keep him firmly in England contention, too, and so while Lingard might not want to play this role long-term, and there will almost certainly come a time when he wants to be a guaranteed starter, he has proved today why rejecting West Ham and staying at United might not have been such a bad idea after all.