West Ham v Manchester United, Match in Pictures
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Jesse Lingard’s stunning late winner for Manchester United against West Ham helped ease the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as both he and Lingard bounced back from Tuesday night’s disappointment in Switzerland.
The United boss came under fire after his side slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s dismissal – and it was Lingard who gifted the Swiss champions their late winner.
Lingard bounced back in spectacular fashion with his last-gasp thunderbolt against the Hammers – but his late heroics could end up giving Solskjaer a headache in the long run.
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Much of the discussion surrounding United’s recapture of Cristiano Ronaldo was centred around how Solskjaer would juggle a bloated attacking department.
Solskjaer has to find room for £73m summer signing Jadon Sancho, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and England duo Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford in his front three alongside Ronaldo.
There was an assumption that Lingard wouldn’t be in that equation, with a summer exit anticipated.
But that wasn’t the case – and the 28-year-old is now determined to muscle in on a regular spot in United’s top-heavy squad.
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It’s ironic that the late strike which could salvage Lingard’s United career came against West Ham – the same side that arguably saved his Premier League career after he excelled in east London during a six-month loan spell at the end of last season.
Lingard netted an impressive nine league goals in just 16 appearances for the Hammers.
Now back at the Theatre of Dreams, Lingard is aware that he’ll need to produce similarly eye-catching returns to have a shot at holding down anything more than a supporting role in Manchester.
His rocket on Sunday means Lingard now has two goals in three league appearances for United – and piles the pressure on Sancho.
The ex-Borussia Dortmund man has made a slow start to life at Old Trafford, and could now face being upstaged by one of United’s previously forgotten men.
Sancho made a similarly slow start before exploding to life for Dortmund last year. But Lingard’s form will certainly leave the £73m man sweating.
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The pair were both introduced from the bench, but it was Lingard who stole the show, as Sancho continues to wait for his Old Trafford career to catch light.
Lingard’s future in Manchester appeared to be clearer even before his late show at the Olympic Stadium when Solskjaer hinted at a new deal earlier this week.
“He’s got this season left on his contract, the club is talking to him and his dad and we see him as a Manchester United player in the future,” Solskjaer said.
“Jesse has come back into us after a great spell at West Ham. He’s shown his qualities and is back in the England squad, he scored goals for England and we really want to see the best of Jesse this season. We support him and want to keep him here with us. He’s a red through and through.”
It’s still early days, but Solskjaer certainly seems to be getting his wish of seeing the best of Lingard.
But it may yet cause him a major selection headache in the months to come.
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