With Manchester United improving under Erik ten Hag, it’s now time to look back at the curious case of Jesse Lingard. Many felt the England international would have been perfect for the Dutchman due to his talent and footballing intelligence. However, the pair never got to work together with the midfielder opting to depart for a new challenge back in the summer.
There was once a time where Lingard was expected to be a key player for United.
Certainly, he had his moments in a red shirt - propelling the club to FA Cup glory under Louis van Gaal in 2016 and to Carabao Cup and Europa League successes under Jose Mourinho the following year.
In the end, however, Lingard didn’t fully realise his potential at United.
One man who coached the player during his early years was Rene Meulensteen, with the Dutchman previously comparing Lingard to Barcelona icon Andres Iniesta back in 2020.
“Jesse had various loan clubs and then he came back,” he said at the time.
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He also clocked up four assists and even earned a recall to the England squad due to the positive nature of his displays.
However, as United’s season imploded last term, Lingard didn’t get a look-in.
Both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick seemed to be reluctant to use the playmaker, despite the talent he possessed.
And by the time Ten Hag had rocked up as United manager, Lingard had already chosen to pursue a new challenge elsewhere.
Many felt he’d end up back at West Ham given how he sparkled under David Moyes during his time at the London Stadium.
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Instead, he joined Nottingham Forest - where he’s since proceeded to blow hot and cold.
Speaking back in January, meanwhile, Lingard revealed he turned to drink amid his struggles at United.
"I was drinking before bed, having a nightcap," he said.
"I look back now and think, 'what was I doing that for?' But I needed something to try and take the pain away and put me at ease somehow.
"I was trying to forget what was going on. But it makes it 10 times worse.
"You're getting that much abuse, and I'm already down enough, and I've got to perform. I'm already going through things you don't know about… I felt like the world was on my shoulders."
And, when asked if he’d lost respect for United over time, he added: "Probably, yeah. [There was] no balance, no structure, people doing what they want. It was like a free for all.
"They are so behind with everything. You see [Manchester] City's facilities, Tottenham's facilities. People are miles ahead. Even on the social side of things. I went to them in 2017 about YouTube and said let's do content.
"I just want them to get up to date on the new things that are happening. You've got to stay relevant. Catch up a bit.
"You see what City are doing, fresh training ground, best facilities, no one talking back in the press about the team."