Having knocked Burnley out of the League Cup last night, Manchester United’s Premier League campaign returns next Tuesday with a home game against Nottingham Forest. It will be the first time we face Forest since the 8-1 thrashing we dished out to them the last time they were in the Premier League in 1998-99 season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer famously came off the bench to score four goals that day but United will be looking for someone else to be a hero next week, with Cristiano Ronaldo having left the club and a space opening up at the head of the attack.
The match will also see Academy graduate Jesse Lingard returning to Old Trafford for the first time after making the move to Forest in the summer.
Speaking with The Athletic, Lingard has reflected on what it will be like returning to the club he represented for over two decades.
I am excited about going back to Old Trafford. I will go there wanting to win — that is the most important thing. It will be emotional on one front. But we have a job to do. If we can get three points, that is the most important thing. I will look forward to catching up with a lot of people after the game. But I want to do that after a win.
I wanted to play regular football. It is hard sitting on the bench. It was my time to move on. I knew it would benefit me, if I moved to Nottingham. I had lots of conversations with the owners; with the Marinakis family. They showed a lot of love towards me. You have to go into a team where you feel wanted. I felt that more from them than from anyone else.
Lingard has been criticised for the attention he gives to social media and his brand but the players insists he is misunderstood and football is always the priority.
Am I misunderstood? Yes, sometimes. But I love training. I love football. I love games. I always want to work hard. That is how you get the best out of me, when I work hard. There might be a tackle that lifts the crowd or just a moment that makes the crowd sit up and think, ‘He is on it today’. You need that intensity. I love winning. I could stay on the training ground all day. But the hard work side of things should be pretty normal for any professional, shouldn’t it?
Football is my number one. That will be my love, no matter what. When I train I train at 100%. But when I come home, I might do something with regard to the business side of things. I might look at JLINGZ or at the social media stuff… it takes your mind away from certain things.
I like to keep busy and I do want to explore a lot of different things, as well as football. I am into fashion, I am into gaming. I like to have interests away from football. But that does not mean I do not have a passion for the game. I do. I work hard every single day to make sure that I am ready.