Friday 17 February 2017

Underrated Lingard made the difference against Saint-Etienne

It was no-coincidence that United's second half performance was much improved after the introduction of Jesse Lingard against Saint-Etienne.

This lad may not be the most naturally gifted player we have or be anywhere near Ballon D'Ors and FIFA Team of the Year, but his qualities are there for all to see.

No one is saying that he should start every week, but the criticism he gets in the media and from other fans (even some United supporters) is unfair and unjustified. 

Tenacious, hard-working and always a goal threat, Lingard offers pace and determination that, coupled with his intelligence, movement and selfless running, creates freedom and space for those around him.

He reminds me of Nicky Butt, who was less appreciated that his more celebrated Class of 92 peers, but nevertheless a vital cog in Sir Alex's benchmark-setting Red juggernaut. 

With Henrikh Mkhitaryan absent through illness, Marouane Fellaini was handed a start but Lingard is a more natural replacement for the Armenian and perhaps should have got the nod. 

The first half did not go as planned but Jose, as we've seen on previous occasions this seasons, wasn't afraid to change things up and put on Lingard to United another dimension. 

His energy and tempo-setting ability allowed us to push Saint-Etienne back and, coupled with the later introduction of Marcus Rashford, proved too potent for the visitors to cope with.
He dovetailed superbly with his fellow young colleague as United recovered from a slow start to eventually overpower the French side. 

He's a completely different type of player in every way to what Fellaini is and every squad is built on players such as Lingard. 

After numerous loan spells in the Championship, Jesse became a first-team regular at Old Trafford under Louis van Gaal.
His second season has proved to be a little more stop start, but he's still produced important, match-defining moments.

He scored in the season's curtain-raiser in the Community Shield win over Leicester and also opened his European account against Fenerbahce. 

His cross for Zlatan's opener at West Brom in December was one of the finest you will see anywhere but yet was only met with acknowledging glances.

Lingard doesn't get the credit he deserves and it's about time he did. 

Whatever he goes on to achieve in his career, Lingard has forever ensured his place in club folklore with his sumptuous winner in that never-to-be-forgotten FA Cup win over Palace in the final at Wembley. 

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