Jesse Lingard was among the heroes, as Manchester United beat Leicester City to ensure qualification for the UEFA champions league on Sunday, and was surprisingly applauded by millions of fans around the world.
But prior to that day, the 27 year old was more often than not, a butt of jokes for many, who never hesitated to criticise him for his lack of form for United in recent months.
We admit Lingard hasn’t indeed been at his best this season, but we believe the versatile player has more than once, proven to be talented and capable of reaching higher levels at what he does.
Take for example, the 2017/18 season, when he was one of United’s best players and helped the club to a second place finish and a Europa League title win, with his 13 goals and 7 assists in 48 matches.
Lingard has also proven to be a loyal and enduring character, having worked with five different managers at Old Trafford, some of which are rated highly in the game.
He has clearly fallen out of favour at United, as seen this season, yet, the Englishman has remained calm, bidding his time, and waiting for the right moment to show he’s still got it.
We also cannot ignore the fact that Lingard is loved by England national team manager, Gareth Southgate, which can only be because of what he’s done, and what he brings to the table – his work rate notwithstanding. With 24 caps for England, the United Academy graduate was described as a good player by his national team boss last year.
For a man who has been with United for 20 years, the treatment he’s received in recent months is poor, to say the least.
Lingard is a proper Red Devil, and deserves as much respect as any other play gets.
At the moment, we’re not sure what the future holds for him, but whether or not he chooses to stay with United, we’re sure he will leave a man who gave a lot for the club he grew up loving.