In an era of supreme egos, Man United grateful for Lingard’s presence


Manchester United have seen their successes with some of the outstanding performances by the stars but the club would have been nowhere without their squad players. They play without any fuss and step in at any moment and perform beautifully just the way they are asked to. Managing the squad players is not an easy task and some club fail to maintain the balance with the squad. This requires a perfect combination of temperament and talent. Jose Mourinho may be grateful to Jesse Lingard for his presence in this era of supreme egos.

Lingard’s style of playing is sometimes significant of the roaming Swedish winger, Jesper Blomqvist who provided the much-needed thrust in the final third for Man United. Lingard did not have an extremely remarkable season but he definitely had a good one. It was above average and could be called as a 7 out of 10 performance. But a 7 is what United need most often.

Lingard was introduced at half time against St. Etienne in the Europa League. Marouane Fallaini was looking cumbersome against the visitor’s fleet-foot midfield and that is when Mourinho called for Lingard. The England international’s dynamic drive helped his team to bag a 3-0 victory which is a score as deceptive as Old Trafford will see all season. United could have conceded a late equaliser before Zlatan made the game. Lingard helped to stretch and spread the play before that point of the game as Rashford made the breakthrough for United’s crucial second.

This year has seen a lot of low points for Lingard. He showed a poor performance in the first half against Manchester City at home in the derby loss in the Premier League. This was a game where City seemed to play a game from the realms of science fiction. He also had a struggling match against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup. This year can be summed up for him in one line- ‘his execution is not as good as his work ethic’.

It is difficult to see how it could go wrong for Lingard as he offers intelligent movement of the ball and a considerable speed on the counter attack. He has scored the most spectacular goal in the recent history of Man United that claimed the club’s first trophy of the post Sir Ferguson era, the 2015-16 FA Cup. It was rare moment when Lingard took the centre stage.

There were a great number of obstacles before him and there may be one or two instances where he could not believe that it would all work out despite his robust self-belief. Now Lingard has a value in the squad that is more than the numbers and goes beyond the pitch. He has been vital in Pogba’s settling in on his return to Old Trafford. He is a great stand in when Juan Mata is withdrawn. With United’s great success this year and next year, Lingard’s name might not be on the billboard but he will definitely be a proud part of the supporting cast in bold letters.


Chelsea vs. Man United is fascinating because of Mourinho


jose-mourinho-manchester-united_uwfhfs8ahy3u1lwegk9f3j91aNon-league quarterfinal between Sutton United and Lincoln City has caught some imagination but the most tempting tie in the last eight of the FA Cup is definitely between Chelsea and Man United. The tie is overflowing with intrigue as it is the Blue vs. Red, Conte vs. Mourinho and Costa vs. Ibrahimovic.

The clubs have been competing against each other since centuries and most of the memories are not in favour of Chelsea supporters. In 1994, the Blues faced a damp and Glenn Hoddle’s team fell 4-0 to Manchester United in the Wembley rain. After two years, Ruud Gullit nodded Chelsea to the lead in the semi finals but Andy Cole’s equaliser and David Beckham’s winning goal turned the table for the Blues.

In the year 1998, Chelsea were the Cup holders and Man United were the reigning Champions when they met at Stamford Bridge for their third round. United took a lead of 5-0 until stupendous chip by Graeme Le Saux over Peter. The matched ended with a score of 5-3 announcing a victory for the visitors.

After the replay in 1999, Man United were victorious again. Chelsea had to wait for eight long years to take revenge in the FA Cup. In 2013 they contested for the quarter final and attained a comeback with the score 2-0 after an amazing shot from Eden Hazard at Old Trafford.

Apart from the huge stature and ambition of the two clubs, another fascinating element in the next instalment of the FA Cup rivalry is because of Jose Mourinho. His association with the Londoners indicate that any reunion will be heavily scrutinised. His actions and words in the recent past have shown that the build up is going to get more intense.

Mourinho has been mocking Chelsea’s overly defensive way of playing and he also quoted that ‘they score one goal and they win’. He recently commented that counter-attacking football has now become a form of art and not a way to win points. He believes that his work at Chelsea was not well appreciated by those of outside Stamford Bridge but his attitude towards Conte’s squad is hypothetical and incorrect.

Mourinho should feel proud about his achievements in Chelsea as his winning mentality was the reason for the club to turn into champions. He also laid the foundation for Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in 2012.

Chelsea has bagged more goals than Mourinho’s squad this campaign. This indicates that his thoughts about his former team’s performance is unjustifiable and shows the negativity surrounding Manchester United. This sort of attitude was not on show during Chelsea’s 4-0 rout of Man United in October.

The fans of Blues still hold a special place for Mourinho as they believe that he had a huge contribution in the team’s success and at times they defend his most nonsensical actions. May be he is just upset about the fact that Conte is receiving the same reverence that was once meant for him.

Mourinho had a warm welcome at Stamford Bridge during his visit in October. The FA quarter final in March will decide if the situation remains the same or the heat will become more uncomfortable for the visiting manager.

Rooney’s record breaking goal at Bogey ground of United

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A tribute night was held by England’s Football Writers’ Association at London’s Savoy Hotel for Wayne Rooney. He finishes the weekend smiling as coach Jose Mourinho gives him an off for Monday training.

Rooney was the Guest of Honour and he is also making headlines due to his record breaking 250th goal for Manchester United. His friends and colleagues were also present there to praise him and be a part of his success. Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman of the club was also present who contributed in making Rooney the highest earner at United after he negotiated the contract in 2013.

A video collage consisting of some of the exceptional goals by Rooney was played. The former England manager Roy Hodgson made speeches. Fletcher talked about the Friendship with Rooney and also said he is a team player and a popular captain.

Rooney has emerged as a more mature player since his first interview when he was a teenager. He is now aware about his responsibilities being associated with United and as the England captain. He must continue to progress if he wants to be a successful media analyst like his former teammate Gary Neville or fellow Liverpudlian Jamie Carragher.

320 goals in 741 professional games for Everton, Manchester United and England leave no doubt in Rooney’s achievement as a player. According to Hodgson, Rooney was ultra-professional and he never missed a training session. He can create more headlines with time as he is still 31 only.

Rooney is going to be remembered as one of the greatest players of United in the history. Even though he said that he is not going to play for any other premier league team, but it is unsure that how long he will be playing for Old Trafford when he has more league games on the bench than the pitch.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still producing top class performances at the age of 35 and Rooney might emulate him or take the example of Ryan Giggs who played for Man United at 40.

He doesn’t have the swiftness of his youth but he is capable of some spectacular performances. He proved that with a fine goal in United’s last defeat which was 17 games ago at Fenerbahce. Saturday’s record breaking goal at Stoke was his second league goal of this season. He showed that he can still be the best player of his side even though he stumbles against the big teams at times.

United were heading for a defeat on Saturday after Juan Mata’s own goal on the 19th minute. Mata missed the chance to equalise but Antonio Valencia was strong and Henrikh Mkhitaryan glided forward with balletic poise. Rooney was brought on when no breakthrough came and Mourinho even switched to a 4-4-2 formation but none of it worked for them.

Rooney took over the free kick won by United at the 94th minute and the ball flew in keeping the unbeaten run intact. He provided a high point to a day that was about to become bleak for them but it has become United’s Achilles heel.