Sunday 18 August 2019

Patient Lingard reaping rewards for buying into Van Gaal's strategy

Manchester Utd 2-0 West brom

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring their first goal of the game
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring their first goal of the game
West Brom's Gareth McAuley concedes a penalty against Manchester United's Anthony Martial
Manchester United's Bastian Schweinsteiger and West Brom's James Morrison tussle for possession

Mark Ogden

Nothing, it seems, comes quickly with Louis van Gaal and Manchester United. Patience, rather than power, pace and penetration, is the watchword.

Why take shortcuts when you can go the long way round, admire the view and maybe even take a detour along the way?

Few can rival Jesse Lingard as the personification of patience and persistence, and the 22-year-old is finally reaping the rewards of his willingness to buy into the manager's blueprint. The Warrington-born winger, who signed for United at the age of seven, has appeared in each of the team's last seven fixtures in all competitions, with his goal here his first for the club.

Having started Van Gaal's first competitive game in charge, against Swansea in August 2014, Lingard's progress was halted by an injury sustained in that game - one which denied him the chance to appear for Van Gaal again until the 3-0 victory at Everton last month.

Yet, with the wheels finally beginning to roll for Lingard, Van Gaal insists that even more patience is required and, if Roy Hodgson thinks the youngster can solve his injury problems on the wing for England, well, he can think again.

"I would say it is much too early [for England] and we have to wait to see if he is consistent in his form," Van Gaal said. "Jesse is more or less the same age as Memphis Depay, so we have to wait and see.

"But I am very happy with his contribution up until now. He played in my first game and then he was injured and he had to recover for six months and then recover his rhythm.

"But while I said to some of the other young boys, they could go on loan at the start of the season, I said to him, 'You have to stay'!"

Lingard's drive and daring has dislodged Depay, the £25m summer signing from PSV Eindhoven, in recent weeks, and his goal showcased his readiness to be bold - a quality Van Gaal appears to have taken away from some of his more experienced players.

With Chris Brunt's header dropping to him on the edge of the penalty area, Lingard controlled the ball with his studs before curling a sumptuous right-foot strike into the bottom corner of Boaz Myhill's net.

Having been frustrated up to that point in the 52nd minute by Albion's mind-numbing negativity, Lingard's goal offered a much-needed reminder that skill and flair can always overcome teams set out only to frustrate.

"Of late, I have been rash with my finishing, but to be composed in that situation is good and I am glad it went in," Lingard said.

"I like the bend in the far-corner shots. It was pure happiness when it went in. My mum was here, my brother, dad and girlfriend, so they are really proud of me. I think my girlfriend has taped it, so I will watch it again later."

Whether Lingard is given the opportunity to claim a first-team position as his own remains to be seen, with Van Gaal admitting he remains determined to inject greater pace into his team on the flanks.

"I have said already in my first year many times that we need speed and creativity on the wings," Van Gaal said.

"You have seen that now we play with Jesse Lingard and he is not the most speedy winger in the world and [Juan] Mata is also not the most speedy winger.

"So, we must address that problem and then we can see how we have to play and how we are in balance with playing with speedy wingers."

Anthony Martial, the £36m August arrival from Monaco, possesses the pace that Van Gaal craves and the French forward's ability to race on to Ander Herrera's 90th-minute pass is precisely what his manager desires out wide.

By breaking clear of the Albion defence, Martial earned a penalty - and red card for Gareth McCauley - by being sent tumbling, leaving Mata to convert the spot-kick and seal a comfortable victory.

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