Jesse Lingard: Dancing Again

It’s only a matter of time before Mark Noble is hitting The Woah on the turf of the London stadium. David Moyes’ band of cockneys have ambitions of a European Tour, and it is fronted by a rejuvenated, dancing, showman.

Jesse Lingard’s musical ensemble after scoring the second goal in a 2-1 win against former manager, Jose Mourinho, for many, was more akin to ear-piercing cringe than chart topping hit.

For many, it was re-emergence of the stick that Lingard has been beaten with his entire career after a year in United wilderness. Fans and pundits alike, – led by an agitated curled-fisted Roy Keane – have often accused Lingard’s focus of straying away from football, reinforced by a jarring, boyish, petulance.

Opinions are split, but Jesse Lingard’s celebration in claret and blue represents much more than the usual hate fuelled vitriol. Lingard has been backed in to a corner that has been darkened by an amalgamation of a prolonged period out of the first team, and off-the-field issues that have coaxed a level of maturity out of Lingard that would be to the surprise of many. It’s a heart warming relief to see Jesse Lingard enjoying his football.

I think football should be your number one priority. It should be. Focus on the game, don’t hide behind your cars, or your tattoos or your girlfriends or your agent, play the game.

Roy keane, speaking on sky sports

Sir Alex Ferguson gave Warrington-born Lingard his competitive Manchester United debut in 2014, having been at the academy since the age of seven. It was certainly earned, not given. Four separate spells, all in the Championship, would have been the breaking of many. First team opportunities were scarce for Lingard, so it was imperative he owned each opportunity. Each coach impressed, Lingards same jovial spirit maintained. Lingard’s tender age meant he was dwarfed by most of the players in frame and height, but never in personality.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND- SEPTEMBER 12: Jesse Lingard in action during the Premier Academy League match between Manchester United Under-18s and Huddersfield Town Under-18s at Carrington Training Ground on September 12 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Of course, Lingard knew he would have to bide his time in his United first-team pursuit, revealing a private chat with Sir Alex when writing for The Players Tribune in 2019. ‘It’s going to take a while for you, Jesse. We believe in you. But you’re going to have to be patient. You’re not going to be ready for the first team until you’re 22 or 23’ Lingard recalls Sir Alex saying. Even his debut provided setback when it finally came, as Jesse was hauled off due to injury after just 24 minutes against Swansea City. Certainly not Instagram worthy.

An enthusiastic local lad chomping at the bit, who had fought tooth and nail to prove himself to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world and highly rated by Sir Alex Ferguson himself? Jesse Lingard should be adored by Manchester United fans.

Lingard is abused by own fans as he boards the team bus.

Perhaps it was ill timing. Lingard would have been well suited to the Tik-Tok generation of footballers churned out today, when social media presence is encouraged rather than dissected, and denounced.

The truth is, Jesse Lingard, just, really pisses people off. People wholeheartedly hate the man. ‘Bad influence’…’a teenager trapped in a footballers body’… ‘Jesse, your moonwalk was far too stiff, not good enough’… The insults are endless.

People cannot stand the way Lingard carries himself. Plastering himself all over social media – usually videos of himself making indistinguishable high pitched sounds, head-to-toe in designer clothing with a well rehearsed dance routine here and there. The elaborate handshakes, the training ground tomfoolery… the list goes on. But what really, really riles the masses, is the branding of J Lingz. A famously so-far unsuccessful clothing brand launched by J Lingz himself in 2018, creatively naming the business after, well, himself which has appeared to extend itself in to Lingard’s own third-person vernacular in interviews and goal celebrations alike.

Lingard’s goals celebration for England, wherein lies the derived meaning of J Lingz in his hand gesture. Nope, me neither.

In essence, who cares? Genuinely. But to the general public, when results and performances are not of the standard, this is time better spent on the training pitch. To those incandescent with rage, Lingard’s priorities lie elsewhere…

JESSE LINGARD – THE MAN

…Which is true, to a degree. But only in the sense that trial, and a whole heap of tribulation, has accompanied Lingard for the best part of a year.

As heart breaking as it is mature, Lingard spoke out in December 2019 detailing a more strenuous demand on his home life in order to help his mother cope with depression. Added to his concern for Mum, Kirsty, would be the welfare of his teenage siblings.

I have been down and glum; just worrying. I felt like everybody just passed all the stuff to me and it weighed on my shoulders. It was like, “Here you go Jesse, you deal with this on your own

In a bid to alleviate stress from his mum, and ensure the best possible environment for Daisy-Boo and Jasper, 14 and 11 at the time, Lingard would step in to the role of parent, attending parent evenings, with the former even moving in with Jesse. Having always labelled himself as a family man, it would be no issue. But having to manage two children, as well as apply himself to training 5 times a week, with a niggling worry for his mum in the back of his mind, can’t have done Jesse any favours. All while the eyes of the world would scrutinise performances week after week. Stressful.

Concern for his mum and siblings unfortunately would not be the brunt of Lingard’s family problems. The man whom Lingard owed his career too, Grandad Ken, was in an ongoing battle with prostate cancer. Ken, a former power lifter for Great Britain, possesses the type of attitude that makes Sir Alex’s hairdryer treatment look like a grazing tumbleweed, helping to push Jesse to the height of his powers. It was blow after blow for Jesse as problems mounted as everything he held dearly to him seemed to be under intense pressure.

Ole was particularly hard on the attacking midfielder as performance level dipped, reaching a boiling point that lead to a knock on the Manchester United Bosses door. Solskjaer would ease off, and Lingard would slowly but surely try to regain some confidence in his football. A bet-ruining last day of the 19/20 season saw Lingard make his first goal contribution after a long and contrived season that was ravaged by personal problems and the coronavirus pandemic closed the year. It was always evident that Lingard has still had talent, but with Bruno Fernandes understandably un-droppable, a season long loan has given Lingard fresh scenery and a new lease of life.

Jesse would tell you that he would be happily step up again in reoccurring circumstances.

Whether being out of first team picture was a direct consequence of personal issues or not, their simultaneity created somewhat of a vicious circle for Lingard, with performance being worsened due to a lack of concentration, further increasing the unlikelihood of first team football, especially competing with Bruno Fernandes, creating an ever-deepening for Lingard to pull himself from.

It’s been a less than compromising year for Jesse Lingard, ensuring the safety of his family while struggling to perform at a club where every touch of the ball is scrutinised, who happen have a shiny new toy in Bruno Fernandes, while receiving abuse from all corners of the internet. An boomerang on Instagram is excusable every now and then.

JESSE LINGARD – THE FOOTBALLER

People genuinely think Jesse Lingard is crap.

People genuinely think that England international, World Cup performing, rated by Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, 137 appearances in the Premier League, Champions League player, who still managed to find himself a top half Premier League club, moonwalking, milly rocking, Jesse Lingard, is crap.

As Manchester United fans on twitter quite succinctly told Jesse, he’s not Bruno Fernandes. But he is a fantastic footballer. A bundle of energy, Lingard is apt at finding space ahead of the ball in pockets between the opposition midfield and attack. Whether to find an area for him to do damage himself or use an intelligent run to take a defenders focus away from a team mate, Lingard has a pretty good footballing IQ. With solid technique when dribbling, we can find Lingard picking up the ball in the half spaces and driving towards the centre of the pitch. As we saw against Sheffield United, he’s not shy of defensive work either after picking the pocket of a Sheffield United player to launch the counter attack, that he wound up on the end of, that won West Hams penalty. Lingard has the right blend of skillset to still be a top performer at a Premier League side. Aided by his physical attributes, moulded by his time in the Championship, and now firing as an important asset for David Moyes, Lingard has been presented with the opportunity to rid a label of ridicule, and become a cult hero in West Hams European charge.

It’s early days at West Ham, but a midfield that is pivoted by the defensive prowess of Soucek and Rice with a roaming Lingard to add an extra attacking dimension,

It’s clear that J Lingz has a weight off of his shoulders and is ready to dance again. And for the West Ham squad, it’s proving to be infectious.

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