Jesse Lingard is ‘dismayed’ at being denied an Old Trafford send-off. What was he expecting? Perhaps we should ponder why Ralf Rangnick decided Edinson Cavani was more deserving…
Goodnight, God bless, ta-ra.
In the absence of the send-off Jesse Lingard felt he deserved after over two decades at Manchester United, the departing forward’s brother took it upon himself to say a few words of farewell.
It’s not the first time that other people have spoken up or out of turn on Lingard’s behalf. A fortnight ago, it was Paul Scholes who revealed the details of what was presumably a private conversation in which Lingard spoke of the ‘disaster of a dressing room’ at Old Trafford.
Perhaps being overlooked on Monday night was Ralf Rangnick’s revenge for Lingard’s loose lips. The interim United boss has dropped plenty of hints in recent weeks about what he thinks about the dressing room Lingard described and the remaining games, with little to play for, give Rangnick the chance to get in a little retaliation for the resistance he’s met since replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
When it comes to Lingard, Rangnick is evidently not impressed by what the England international has to offer. Nor was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Rangnick was happy in January to let Lingard leave, as was Solskjaer a year before him, but the club – for reasons known only to the hierarchy at Old Trafford – denied the 29-year-old another opportunity to go out and play.
Jesse Lingard’s brother Louie Scott on Instagram last night 😬 pic.twitter.com/XoGTZrDpfK
— utdreport (@utdreport) May 3, 2022
There is no question that Lingard has been badly managed by the club, but the responsibility for that falls at the feet of the board rather than the manager. Solskjaer and Rangnick were both happy to make do without Lingard – he played a single minute in the Premier League between the managerial change and the end of January – but the club got greedy. And scared.
When they had the opportunity to make some money on Lingard last summer when his stock was as high as it could possibly have been after a productive loan at West Ham, United felt they could rinse a few more quid out of his suitors, despite the fact he was entering the final year of his contract. If it weren’t for his contract situation, he would have been a £50million player, apparently. A £50million player that can’t get into this United team. That misreading of the situation prompted the fear of Lingard repeating such form for another club as he approached free agency, all the while making United look daft. Which they are perfectly capable of doing all on their own.
Shipping out Anthony Martial and suspending Mason Greenwood left United feeling short in attacking areas, but still, Rangnick has barely used Lingard. Now the academy graduate will leave for nothing with a bitter taste in his mouth.
But Rangnick and United owe Lingard nothing. Even while refusing to let him leave, United hardly held the player captive. For sitting on the bench, he has been remunerated to the tune of £80,000 a week. His performances when allowed on the pitch have hardly warranted further inclusion.
When he leaves the club at the end of the season, his departure will be mourned no more than anyone else heading towards the exit. Indeed, many United fans might welcome it.
Lingard has served the club well, as his brother was at pains to point out. An FA Cup final winning goal and one in the League Cup final is a better legacy than many players carry with them when they move on. But for the most part, his prominence has been symbolic of the declining standards at Old Trafford.
Not necessarily in terms of his performance, which has generally been wholehearted. But off the pitch, some of his choices have been dubious at best.
From sharing footage of United players cowering in the aisle when their team coach was pelted on the way to West Ham in 2016; launching a clothing brand while Jose Mourinho was losing his job in 2018; sharing by mistake a crass video while on holiday in Miami; posting more than once images of his happiness at West Ham while sulking back at Old Trafford; asking for time off to ‘clear his head’ when he was made to stay – to many, Lingard’s rap sheet is as long as his list of achievements at United.
Rangnick seems to view Lingard as more trouble than he’s worth – the player is doubtless in good company in that respect. The interim manager chose to save the send-offs for more low-maintenance departees, with Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic both given the chance to say goodbye to Old Trafford.
So was Edinson Cavani, which is a little harder to fathom. Perhaps Rangnick assumed that like so many times this season, the Uruguayan might swerve the remaining two away games, when Lingard could yet be given the chance to wave at barely-arsed United fans. But maybe we should ponder why Rangnick felt Cavani deserved the chance to bid farewell to the Theatre of Dreams and Lingard did not?
Rangnick could have better used his final substitution to give one of the youngsters 15 minutes to impress. The manager name-checked Alejandro Garnacho while discussing his regret over not being able to make five changes but we have to assume that we will see more of the academy graduate at Brighton or Palace.
At the AmEx or Selhurst Park, for the final time in the shirt of his boyhood club, we may well see Lingard too. But his brother, while venting, only served to highlight why we might not.