Jesse Lingard has long enjoyed proving people wrong and rising to the occasion. It seemed, for a fair amount of time, that he was just not good enough for Manchester United. He loved the club, of that there was no doubt, and he clearly worked harder than many other players and wanted it more than teammates. You only have to look at Ravel Morrison, who is more naturally gifted than Lingard but didn’t work anywhere near as hard to see that Lingard is a player who bleeds for United and has always been desperate to play at Old Trafford.
He was sent out on loan after loan after loan, happy to get game time and very hopeful that someone at Old Trafford was watching and realising that, maybe he did have the talent to make it at the top level and in the pressure cooker environment that is Manchester United. He exploded onto the consciousness of the wider world when he scored four goals for Birmingham City against Sheffield Wednesday during his first appearance for the midlands side. It was clear he was a talent but a raw one who needed work.
It can be very hard to back players and to work out who will make it to the top and who will not. Lingard is a great example as is Harry Kane, both went on loan to League One and Championship clubs, both played well but neither of them looked like future top Premier League players, however both made it big. Footy predictions are so tough whether it is which players will make it, which teams are going to win their next match or where the best value lies in the betting markets. Lingard proved many people wrong and has moved onto the next level.
Jose Mourinho often gets it in the neck for not improving young players, you hear time after time how he doesn’t make players better and Luke Shaw is often used as a stick to beat him with. However you don’t hear anywhere near as much or see as many column inches about Lingard, a player who has thrived under Jose and grabbed his chance with both hands.
That has seen him rewarded with a place in the England team as well as the chance to impress Gareth Southgate and secure his place on the plane to Russia. He was excellent as a starter and proved to Southgate why he can be a real star for England. He can play on the wing, he can play through the middle he could even play as an inside forward.
Lingard wasn’t expected to make it for Manchester United, now he is a goalscoring part of Mourinho’s plan. His England chances were supposed to be over and now he has an international goal, he is a player who thrives under pressure, who isn’t willing to give up and will work hard for his team. He is everything England needs and hopefully he can shine in Russia as part of an England team which goes as far as it can.