Manchester United’s youth academy has produced some famous names, prime among which was the esteemed Class of ’92 featuring Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, the Neville brothers and more.
Even more graduates like Marcus Rashford, Darren Fletcher, Danny Drinkwater, Paul Pogba and Gerard Pique have gone on to grace the game, either at Old Trafford or elsewhere.
But rarely has a youngster divided opinions as Jesse Lingard.
Lingard joined the United academy aged seven, back in 2000, and signed a professional contract in 2011.
The player went on four different loans, starting from Leicester City in 2012, Birmingham City in 2013, Brighton the next year and finally Derby County the year after.
From 2015 onwards, he became a first-team player for the Red Devils and stayed there till 2021.
But saying that he was a fixture in the team would be an overstatement. Inconsistent performances meant the player never fully convinced any of the managers that passed the Old Trafford lobby.
“JLingz” peaked in 2017-18, playing 33 times in the league and scoring 8 goals. Since then, it was 4 goals in 27 appearances in 2018-19 and only 1 in 22 PL outings in 2019-20.
No more a youngster and plenty of off-the-field antics, patience was running out among the fans and the management alike. With no appearance in the league, Lingard sought a loan move in 2020-21, a deal that would work out very well for all parties involved.
The Englishman moved to West Ham to work under former-boss David Moyes. A revival that very few anticipated saw Jesse score 9 goals and 5 assists in 16 appearances.
As was expected, hopes were high for the player upon his return to the parent club. But, for reasons that are still undisclosed, Lingard started only two league games that season.
In fact, Lingard himself claims to not know why he was not played more often by first Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick.
Speaking to The Telegraph in November of 2022, the player slammed his United, saying, “I don’t know what the problem was, whether it was politics or whatever. I still haven’t got an answer to this day.
“I didn’t even ask. I’d rather that someone out of respect for me being there that long told me, ‘This is why you’re not playing’, but I never got that.
“It was false promises. I was training hard and I was sharp, I was ready to play… When you’re working hard in training and don’t play at the end of it, it’s very frustrating”.
Whatever the reason, Lingard did not start and eventually moved on to the newly-promoted PL team Nottingham Forest for free.
And now, as it turns out, November 2022 will not be the only time he has decided to take shots at his former club.
The player has done it again in a bombshell interview on a business podcast called The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett.
The full interview can be seen below.
In an interview which lasted almost 75 minutes, the player covered various topics, starting from his first break at United, all the way to his acrimonious exit.
Turning To Alcohol
Lingard mentioned how the abuse from fans due to his performances and his mother’s struggle with depression drove him to alcohol in a bid to detach from life.
I was drinking before bed, having a nightcap.
I look back now and think, ‘what was I doing that for?’ But I needed something to try and take the pain away and put me at ease somehow.
I was trying to forget what was going on. But it makes it 10 times worse.
You’re getting that much abuse, and I’m already down enough, and I’ve got to perform. I’m already going through things you don’t know about… I felt like the world was on my shoulders.
A Loan Move Denied
The Forest player claimed that in his last season at Old Trafford, he was stopped from going on loan to Newcastle United and that Director of Football John Murtough was behind this.
So, they let a couple of players go out on loan, but when it came to me, John Murtough rang and said, ‘No, you’re not going on loan.’ I was like, ‘Well, he’s gone on loan – let me go and enjoy my football as I’m not playing here.’ He asked, ‘What do you want, days off?’ and I said, ‘No, I just want to go and play football.’
So, then they stopped the loan – I was pissed – and when he said, ‘Did I want days off,’ so I messaged him and said, ‘I am going to take two days off now, just because you said that.’ Then they put out, ‘Jesse’s asked for two days off in the media.’ I was like, ‘What?’ I went on Twitter straight away and put the facts out there.
Manchester United – Then and Now
Jesse also reflected on how things have changed since Sir Alex swapped the dugout for the Director’s seat.
There was no control. When Ferguson was there, it was full control. A fortress – everything went through him. Contracts, commercial deals, everything. Of course, generations change, players grow up and people have a voice. When things are getting said about you that are not true, you are going to voice your opinion.
It wouldn’t have happened back in the day – it would have been squashed there and then with Sir Alex. But now, people have got platforms to voice their own opinion and write what they want.
A Club Left Behind
Lingard covered not just topics pertaining to football, but other topics as well, like training facilities and social media, something that Lingard is extremely active on.
They’re so behind on everything. You see City’s facilities, ottenham’s facilities… people are miles ahead. Even the social side of things. I went to them in 2017 about YouTube and doing content – I just wanted them to get up to date with everything and the new things that are happening.
You have to be relevant and stay relevant. There was no control, no structure, people doing what they want – it was like a free-for-all.
A Lack Of Clarity
Even though the problem is well identified, Jesse claims to not know who is actually to blame for the state.
We don’t know [who’s calling the shots].
And of course now they [owners the Glazers] want to sell the club. We were just behind on a lot of things. Players didn’t really take a view.
You want the modern things, you want the things that are popping off at the time, but we don’t know who calls the shots on the training ground and that sort of thing. Flash training ground, best facilities, no-one talking in the press about the team.