End of the road for Jesse Lingard as experts all agree it’s over

by Red Billy

At half-time in the FA Cup Quarter Final match against Norwich City on Saturday, United Peoples TV pundit Sam Peoples tweeted something that probably every Manchester United fan was thinking:

‘One thing we can all agree on, it’s goodbye Jesse Lingard whenever the transfer window is open.

‘He’s gone, fini, the end. His performance so far and this game as a whole is a horrible reminder of the sort of football we’ve had to get used to watching in recent years.’

The FA Cup tie against the lowly Canaries, almost certainly condemned to finish the season at the foot of the Premier League and coming off the back of two home defeats within a week, was widely seen as another chance for Lingard to recapture the form that has been absent for two years. It was a chance – maybe the last chance – for the 27-year-old to convince manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he has a future at Old Trafford.

To say Lingard didn’t take that chance is putting it mildly. Sure enough, he displayed a lot of energy, running around the pitch like a Yorkshire terrier chasing a frisbee, but there was no product. His substitution in the 63rd minute seemed almost like putting that Yorkshire terrier out of its misery.

‘The midfielder failed to seize his chance against Norwich and his time at Manchester United may be running out,’ said The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson.

‘If this was an appraisal for a new contract, it’s hard to see how he could possibly have passed – particularly given it was terminated after 63 minutes by his substitution.’

Other journalists were more blunt in their appraisal.

‘Solskjaer can’t trust players like Lingard if he wants to win trophies’ was the brutal conclusion of The Athletic’s Andy Mitten.

‘Lingard, Juan Mata and Diogo Dalot could play in the return leg of their Europa League tie with LASK in August, in which they have a 5-0 advantage, but otherwise, the stakes are too high, their performances this season too mediocre.

‘After the woeful October defeat at Newcastle, where Lingard and Dalot both started, one United coach privately admitted that “the toolbox is hardly overflowing with talent right now”.’

The difference between those other two players and Lingard, however, is that one – Dalot – is young enough at 21 to improve, and the other – Mata – has, at 32, nothing to prove and is likely to segue into a coaching role at Old Trafford.

Lingard, on the other hand, is at the peak age for a footballer’s career – 27. This is not the time for faltering or being distracted. The former England international is just that – former – whilst another star from the same academy year, Paul Pogba, is a World Cup winner and one of the most sought after players on the planet.

Both players have received criticism for their social media activity and off-field business ventures, both have the same agent in Mino Raiola, but there is one huge difference between the two: Pogba has the talent to back up the hype, whereas Lingard, on the evidence of the last two years, hasn’t.

‘Adding his JLingz clothing range logo to a tribute to the Manchester Arena terror attack was so misguided, you wonder who sanctioned it, as was tweeting an advert out for a computer game during the 60th memorial for the Munich air disaster’ Mitten notes.

‘Lingard’s “beans, beans, beans” social media posts from a South Beach hotel last summer was criticised as cringeworthy for a 26-year-old adult, more so because of the timing after a dire end to the season.’

The Sun also weighed in this week, noting that ‘Lingard, 27, even has his own scent, as well as mobile phone cases featuring a graphic of his trademark goal celebration.

‘Early signs suggest that customers aren’t convinced by Lingard’s brand either, with the JLingz fashion line losing £200,000 in its first year,’ says reporter Jon Boon.

‘While the jury’s out on both Lingard’s clothing range and his football career, perhaps the best thing he can do is concentrate on impressing his boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.’

With United facing a tough FA Cup semi-final tie against Chelsea, barring an injury crisis it is hard to see Lingard starting another domestic game for United this season. And as the transfer window will be well and truly open by the time the Europa League resumes, it could even be that the dour performance at Carrow Road proves to be Jesse Lingard’s last ever outing in a Manchester United shirt.

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