𝐁𝐈𝐈𝐈𝐈𝐆 performance from the boys!
UP. THE. REDS.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 7, 2021
United may have fallen behind in the title race this season but at least they got a measure of revenge over rivals City with a 2-0 win at the Etihad to snap their 21-game winning run.
The victory also maintained a similar unbeaten run of 22 games for United away from home, proving that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team are finding their footing this season and are comfortably best of the chasing pack behind City.
Although there are still honours up for grabs this season – United are still in the Europa League and will need to see out their position in the Champions League places in the league table – many United fans are already looking to next season’s campaign and how the team can potentially challenge City for the title.
Investment will be key in the transfer market as the 2020/21 team has shown flashes of real quality at times and been defensively frail at others. But the squad could also be reinvigorated by the return of players currently out on loan, and no one has made as big an impact as former England midfielder Jesse Lingard.
Lingard has turned around his career in a short space of time, since moving to Europe-chasing West Ham. Lingard had six goal contributions (four goals, two assists) in his first six games for the Hammers to light up social media and send his name flying into fantasy football teams across the country.
This is not Jesse Lingard’s first sparkling loan spell away from Old Trafford, of course. Lingard first burst on to the scene while out on loan at Birmingham City in 2013, when he scored four goals, including a first-half hat-trick, on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday. While Birmingham are currently mired in a relegation scrap at the bottom of the Championship and fancied as short as 20/21 in the Championship betting odds to sink into League One, Lingard’s current temporary home in East London is bouncing at the thought of his goals helping West Ham to their first European berth in years.
Now the question becomes: where can Jesse Lingard help this United side next year?
Undoubtedly the attacking player who has most frustrated United fans this season has been Anthony Martial. The French forward has been subject to a lot of criticism but plays a vital role in United’s rapid counter-attacking style and can play in numerous positions alongside, or just off, Marcus Rashford. Would an in-form Jesse Lingard, playing in the marauding way he has for West Ham in the second half of the season, be an upgrade on Martial?
At the very least, including Lingard in the wider squad increases the competition for places, which can only be a good thing, especially as United gear up for another season in the Champions League. Solskjaer choosing from Rashford, Martial, Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James and a returning Lingard gives United an embarrassment of attacking riches to rival the biggest teams in Europe.