Jesse Lingard has revealed that Manchester United U21 coach Warren Joyce told him to always to keep his defensive duties in mind during his early career at the club.
Lingard has made an encouraging impact since he was handed his first-team chance by Louis van Gaal this term, scoring the opening goal in Man United’s 2-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
The English forward was first included in the first-team in van Gaal’s very first competitive game as United manager against Swansea City in August 2014.
Yet a first half injury saw that season’s chances evaporate, as Lingard instead went on loan to Derby County. Now he has four more appearances under his belt and his first goal for his boyhood team. One thing in his favour with van Gaal is his willingness to track back, as shown with him replacing Juan Mata when United have needed to protect a lead. Lingard admitted this was learnt from Joyce.
“I think I learned that in the Reserves with Warren [Joyce],” Lingard said.
“He always saying: ‘Track back, track back’ and shouting at us on the pitch. It stuck with me. Even when I was out on loan, I was doing it. The manager likes your defensive work as well as going forward so this puts me in a good position when I’m on the right, knowing I can get up and down the pitch. All the hard work pays off in the end.”
Lingard has added a further attacking threat to United’s often feeble forward line. With Juan Mata, the Reds have a superb footballer with a skill set rarely matched in the game while Memphis Depay offers flair and Ashley Young offers pace and deep crosses. Lingard uses his limited pace well and cuts inside as well as crossing consistently. He certainly isn’t the next Ryan Giggs and he isn’t going to miraculously turn into a world-class footballer but there is a future for him at Man United if he continues to work hard and learn quickly.