Former England manager Steve McClaren has hailed Jesse Lingard for fulfilling his attacking potential at Manchester United this season.
The 25-year-old came into the 2017/18 campaign with experience in the first team but his lack of goals – 11 in 82 appearances – prevented him from breaching the starting XI as Jose Mourinho’s men made a rampant start to the season.
But he has since asserted himself as a regular starter with a series of important strikes, netting his tenth goal of the campaign during the 2-0 win over Everton on Monday – a gorgeous curling effort to kill the game off.
And McClaren, who worked with Lingard during his time at Derby County, has noted that the Englishman was now reaching his full potential under Mourinho.
“When I was at Derby we took him on loan and he had just had an injury,” he said. “He came to us to get his fitness back and games. You could see the potential and wow he is fulfilling that now and he is different. He is unique. He is forward-running with and without the ball.”
“He is such a threat and he is probably a quicker runner with the ball than without the ball. He beats players, can score, is composed and can assist.”
Lingard’s time in the first team properly began with a substitute appearance at Goodison Park in October 2015, coming on at half time to produce a disciplined, energetic display.
Over two years later, he made the stage his own, skipping past players at will in the No.10 role before delivering the killer blow with ten minutes left – the moment that, above all else, revealed relentless improvements he has made to his game, the insatiable desire to stay afloat in this ever-changing United side.
People will continue to attack his ‘JLingz’ demeanour. That is just what happens in this country when a young, black, confident individual starts to enter the public limelight.
But performances like the one at Goodison reflect a more important, relevant truth about the Englishman: that he is, above anything, an example of ruthless personal development at the highest level.