Solskjaer: Lingard led the team by example
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Jesse Lingard’s impact, both on and off the pitch, after the Manchester United forward captained the club for the first time on Thursday.
With our UEFA Europa League qualification already secured, the manager left regular skippers Ashley Young, Harry Maguire and David De Gea at home as he named a youthful travelling squad.
Lingard was the most senior outfield player in the group and, as a proud lifelong United supporter, the 26-year-old was given the honour of captaining the side against Astana in Kazakhstan.
Incredibly, Jesse led a starting XI in Nur-Sultan that had an average age of 22 years and 26 days, which is the youngest the club has ever named for a match in major European competition.
Tonight, a boyhood dream came true for me. To captain Manchester United has been a lifelong ambition ever since I joined the club at 9 years old. Manchester is my city, Manchester United is my club. I am truly honoured to captain the club tonight and lead this young team#Honoured pic.twitter.com/tTYmSxK6Ja— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) November 28, 2019
Surrounded by eight other homegrown players in the starting line-up, Lingard began by scoring his first goal since last January's Emirates FA Cup tie at Arsenal and Solskjaer was pleased by his overall performance.
“Goalscoring is important for forwards, of course, and Jesse scored a very good goal,” the boss told us.
“But I thought his performance was top class. He led the team by example: energy, drive, he scored a goal, and he was great in the dressing room. So he’s done himself proud today, I think.”
In his press conference, the boss expanded on his praise, telling reporters: “I thought Jesse was excellent. He is nearly 27 and an experienced player, and he's been very good on the whole trip with the young boys.
“I’m very pleased with his performance on the pitch as well. It’s good to have Jesse back.”
Lingard spoke to our reporter Stewart Gardner following the final whistle in Kazakhstan and, while he was pleased to score his goal, the no.14 was more frustrated about the dropped points.
“It’s always good to get off the mark and it gives you a bit of confidence,” he said. “We started off quick and we dominated the first half, but it’s that 30-second period in the second half where we could have managed the game a bit better. Maybe one of the experienced lot, maybe me or Axel could have grabbed hold of the game. Things happen in football but it’s great for these lads.”
After his positive goalscoring performance in Kazakhstan, Lingard now hopes to feature again when United return to Premier League action, against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.