After another impressive display, has Jesse Lingard ensured his Manchester United future?
Every time a new manager comes into the club, there will be players facing uncertain futures. Manchester United have some very talented players, but there will be some that don’t suit Jose Mourinho’s style of play, namely Juan Mata. There was a feeling that Jesse Lingard would be another who didn’t fit into Mourinho’s plans in the long-term. However, he started on Sunday and gave Manchester United a first half lead in the Community Shield.
Jose Mourinho has a defined style and looks to want a certain profile of player in each position. On the wings, he likes to have technically gifted players, but also puts a lot of emphasis into defensive contribution. His team need to work as a unit when out of possession and provide few gaps for the opposition to exploit. This involves the wingers working hard to help their full back when the other side have the ball. A winger in a Jose Mourinho side must be industrious. The perfect examples are Damien Duff and Willian, both of whom have excelled in Mourinho sides.
This will require a certain level of tactical knowledge to fully understand the role. There was a question mark over Lingard in this respect as he is viewed as a street footballer, rather than one schooled in the tactical side of the game. Last season, there was no doubting his willingness to work hard defensively, but he could be reckless in his approach, leaving gaps for full backs to exploit.
On Sunday, the early indications were that he has taken on the defensive instructions from Mourinho and looked suited to the system as a result. It would have been a huge confidence boost for the Manchester United academy graduate to be selected for Mourinho’s first game in charge and this was reflected in his performance. Lingard stood out in the first half with his movement and link up play, scoring a well taken goal in the process. Although he may not be a major player for Manchester United this season, he has certainly shown Mourinho that he is capable of excelling in the new system.
Lingard has been mentioned as a talented young player for a number of years and his rise to the top has been a slow one. He is now 23 years of age and should look to kick on in the Manchester United first team. The winger has been selected by both van Gaal and Mourinho for their first matches in charge, which highlights how highly rated he is, but there have been concerns about his fitness and consistency. He is facing a battle to be a regular for Manchester United in the Premier League and his future could depend on the role Wayne Rooney plays.
The Rooney conundrum has weighed Manchester United down for years as he has become less effective on the pitch. He has been a great servant for the club and achieved almost everything there is to achieve in the game. However he can hurt the side as he did on a few occasions against Leicester, causing attacks to breakdown.
The club captain is currently being utilised as a number ten supporting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be better suited to the role. If Rooney continues to start every game, Mkhitaryan is likely to be used on the right wing, which blocks Lingard’s route to a regular starting spot. As the season progresses, Rooney may be used less often, especially if his form doesn’t improve. This would lead to more opportunities for Lingard.
It is unlikely that Jesse Lingard will be a starter under Jose Mourinho as he has a lot of other excellent attacking options. Although he will have done himself no harm with his performance in the Community Shield, while he showed the wider footballing community that he does have a future at Manchester United. It will take more performances like that before Mourinho considers starting him every week, but he certainly has a role to play in the new era at Old Trafford.
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