Bryan Robson, the legendary former Manchester United captain, has sung the praises of Jesse Lingard ahead of England’s second game of the World Cup against Panama.
Lingard played well in the opening game against Tunisia but should have scored at least one goal. Robson recognises that the forward has areas of his game to work on but that he has the right work ethic to go far.
When I first saw Jesse Lingard I thought he would never make it at Manchester United. He was small, he was light and he didn’t show enough to make me believe he could be anything more than a squad player. It is to his eternal credit that he has proved me wrong.
This kid has worked so hard at his game that he’s an example to any young player who gets a few knocks and questions whether they can make it. Now he is playing for England in a World Cup.
As an ambassador for United, I used to go to the training ground quite a bit and watch the academy players and reserves and I would get to see the likes of Jesse up close.
My first impression was, he is not going to make it here, at best he’ll get in the squad or be someone the club loan out and then sell on. I just didn’t see enough quality. Sometimes, though, a player goes out on loan and it changes them.
It can be the making or breaking of a player and for Jesse it made him. You can go away, play well for another club and think, ‘OK, this will do, I’ll settle for this’, or you think, ‘I like the taste of this but it would be even better if I was playing for Manchester United’. That’s when the work begins and I think the penny dropped with Jesse.
Jesse’s gone on to score some very important goals for the club, helped them win big competitions and now he’s in England’s World Cup team. He deserves it. He has a work ethic and great character to hang in there. There’s definitely room for improvement but you know he recognises that. He gets goals but should score even more. He needs to find that bit of composure.