Last season, the watching world witnessed the emergence of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford from within the club’s youth ranks, and although the spotlight shone more on the latter due to his goalscoring prowess and age, the former is equally deserving of all the attention and accolades.
Lingard earned 25 EPL appearances under LVG, largely due to the many injuries that plagued the team. And he stepped up perfectly well to the challenge of playing his first full season as a Manchester United senior team player.
He bagged 4 league goals, a quite commendable return for a winger, and he highlighted how threatening his attacking prowess could be by landing some important goals in the F.A Cup final and Community Shield.
This season, it’s a whole new game for the 23-year-old. His former teammate from the youth team is back and is the most expensive in the world.
There are many challenges he must deal with, but given his abilities and talents, this term could be his breakthrough season. And here are reasons why.
He had a solid foundational season:
As far as debut goes, last season was a great one for Lingard. He had a total of 40 appearances across all competitions, and his emergence was one of the few positives for the club in what was a very underwhelming campaign.
He finally found his feet in a big team with a lot of experienced players having spent 3 seasons on loan in the Championship with 4 different clubs. He settled well into the squad and did step up his game to match required standards.
Having gotten all that, the onus is on him to take his game to the very next level this season. Although it has been a slow start for him since the beginning of the campaign, he would do well with time and get his groove back on.
Stiff competition and the need to prove himself:
Under Mourinho, he has only started 3 league games and appeared once in the Europa League. He had a poor first half against Manchester City in the Derby match and was subsequently withdrawn. That resulted in him sitting out of the next set of games until his start against Leicester City last weekend.
There is a lot of competition for playing time within the ranks, and Mourinho wouldn’t hesitate to drop him down the pecking order anytime.
Mkhitaryan, Depay, Martial, Mata and Rashford are all available for selection on the wings, and that reality would push him to always give his best whenever he’s afforded the chance to play. More playing time, and he would get better and increase his chance to claim a permanent starting berth.
The presence of Pogba and Rashford:
He won the 2011 F.A Youth Cup with Pogba, and their careers haven’t moved at the same pace since. That definitely serves as a constant reminder, and inspiration for him. He wants to prove that he can also join the list of the very few United Academy products that have proceeded to make it to the senior team.
Rashford’s sudden rise took the EPL by storm, and despite starting this season on the bench, the teenager has warmed his way into Mourinho’s heart and constantly gives him selection migraines. All due to his form.
Contrary to popular belief upon the manager’s arrival, it has been proved that young players would always get their opportunities if they’re so deserving of it. That would push Lingard to always bring out the best in him, and he could be on his way to have his big break this season.