The renaissance of Jesse Lingard, from Manchester United bench-warmer to frontman of The Backstreet Moyes at West Ham, has been one of this season’s most heartwarming developments.
It may feel like another lifetime ago, but it’s not been that long since Lingard was curling one into the Panama net at the 2018 World Cup, cementing his reputation as a player for the big occasion.
His decline from that heady summer in Russia was pronounced. Lingard contributed no goals or assists across the entirety of 2019, lost his place in the England squad and was dropped from the United first team by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The arrival, and sustained excellence, of Bruno Fernandes led most of us to believe Lingard was finished at Old Trafford. The deterioration of his form was met with glee across social media by sheltered dullards who viewed Lingard’s easy-go-lucky attitude to life with a veneer of jealousy.
Even the midfielder’s explanation of how family issues had affected his game was dismissed by those who believe money and fame are insulation against human emotion.
Yet Lingard has been a revelation since his loan move to West Ham in January. Whereas it was clear Solskjaer had lost faith in his player, restricting him to occasional appearances in the League Cup and Europa League, David Moyes has integrated Lingard into a winning team.
This responsibility has clearly made him feel wanted. After scoring twice on his debut at Aston Villa, only partially helped by the fact Emiliano Martinez was wearing his mum’s oven gloves that night, Lingard was instrumental during the Hammers’ win over Tottenham in the ‘We Hate Chelsea’ derby. Continue reading
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