It’s important, at a time when it feels like many, many things are designed to annoy us – the way young people use technology; the way old and middle-aged people use technology; the way politicians talk about using technology, and then about pretty much everything else – to remember there are always new, unexpected ways to annoy us.
Here’s a good one for you. Six of the finest items for sale on Jesse Lingard’s self-branded ‘fashion line’. Bet you never thought you’d live to see the day – on a football website! But let’s dive into JLingz six times, one for each Premier League goal he’s scored since March 2018. Let’s see what happens when an unspectacular, occasionally with a bit-of-flair Championship-level player ends up convinced by the good people around him that what the world needs now is not limited to the items below – there’s plenty more on the website.
6. Kids Dancefloor Hoodie. Black. £35
We’ve all been on a dancefloor, spotted a kid nearby and thought ‘that kid looks cold, like he could use a hoodie to warm up’. This is, presumably, the thought that played through Jesse’s mind as he headed back to the bench around the 50-minute mark in any given game. I can think of few things that would make me more inclined to just pack this child-raising thing in and move to Bermuda than seeing my kid doing the JLingz ‘logo’ on the dancefloor, brand name gored down his adolescent arm. But I am not the target market for this item. For me there’s the same hoodie – but now priced at £45.
5. From the JLingz Originals line (the others are presumably are knockoffs) – No:14 hoodie. Grey. £45
Ah, now this is more my cup of tea. The type of hoodie you could get from Primark, for £8, with a random 14 on it. The sort that, in those glum, go-nowhere days when you move artlessly from this YouTube compilation of Kaka’s greatest moments to that cup of tea, would comfort you in knowing that you and Jesse, via that number 14 (and £45) shared a bond.
4. JLingz Aftershave. £45 £15
I’ll be honest, there is no more fun to be had browsing this site than in the reductions. In fact – and this is perhaps not the finest marker of long-term financial success – it has a permanent section called Sale on the homepage. With pretty much every item you get a good sense of what, when he was sat on the bench watching United against Everton, old Jess thought would make a decent price point. Soon after when reality hit, the focus switched to what might get this one out of the bloody warehouse pronto.
But what I most want, more than anything, is a list of every single person who bought this. The clueless grandparents who had no idea what to get for Christmas, but definitely remembered hearing the name ‘Jesse Lingard’ gabbled a few times in their presence – fair enough. No, what I really want, because it would take me down an avenue I cannot at this point fathom, is a list of every single person who decided they wanted to smell, as the website says, ‘like LINGZ’. And of course it is specified as unisex, because what woman wouldn’t want to smell like a 27-year-old man? What that odour actually is isn’t clear; the website offers no description – I’m guessing Adidas shower gel – but you’ll be pleased to know it’s Limited Edition. Bet it bloody is.
3. Co-Ord shorts. Black. £30 £14.
Here, mate, how’s your Co-Ords? Your hand-eye Co-Ords? These shorts will help your leg Co-Ords. Better than half-price. Albeit without an available image.
2. Outline Grey t-shirt. Grey. £30
Gotta have one item that just raises its hands to the heavens, while placing those hands in what the website describes as an ‘iconic celebration that has been quickly replicated by fans across the globe’, and howls Cometh Ye Gods Of Consumerism, let I too be part of a global movement that charges budget fabrics through the sweaty, unlovely halls of foreign textile mills, sticks a logo on them, and bills ye good consumer an unfathomably vast mark-up for the pleasure of wearing it.
So that’s what this one is.
1. JLingz Be Yourself Phone Case. £18 £6.99
Hard to know what to like most about this. But there are options: almost two-thirds off the original price always feels like a bargain. In the end, it’s a toss-up between the motivational instruction itself, and the inverted commas it is served in. I’d like to think those inverted commas are a complicated game old Jess is playing with irony while flogging you this stuff.
But in another part of me, I like to imagine a bunch of the people who do these things for work nagging him with, ‘Jesse, Jesse, mate – we need a phrase, something you think is important for your young fans to take away from the experience of being your branded disciple, got anything, mate?’
Jesse shrugs, in the midst of another game of FIFA with Scott McTominay, and eventually, with another annoyed shrug, mutters that.
I’d like to think it worked that way.