It is hard to argue that Jose Mourinho has underwhelmed at Manchester United since his appointment. Many at Old Trafford, from board members to supporters on the terrace, were expecting a much bigger fight for domestic glory in the Premier League, the trophy that has eluded the club since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement back in 2013.
However, despite the likelihood that, much to the club’s disgust, the Premier League title looks like it is going across the city of Manchester to Pep Guardiola and the once “noisy neighbours” at the Etihad Stadium, there is still plenty to be positive about at Old Trafford.
Firstly, Mourinho’s side can still walk away from the 2017/18 campaign with trophies, with Man United still in the hunt for both the Champions League and FA Cup, although the club’s supporters will have been disappointed with a quarter-final exit in the League Cup at the hands of Bristol City, denying Mourinho the chance to defend the title he has won so often during his time in England.
A tricky Champions League tie with Sevilla awaits, and perhaps Man United’s best chance of a trophy this season comes in the FA Cup, where thanks to a 2-0 victory over Derby County in the third round, Mourinho’s side are fighting on. That victory came down to a stunning Jesse Lingard performance, with the youngster, not for the first time this season, at the heartbeat of everything done well.
Lingard finds himself amongst a pool of high-profile players, with the pressure well and truly on the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, three players who have all arrived at Old Trafford for extremely high transfer fees. Perhaps Lingard’s fearless performances of late are down to the little pressure he finds himself under, but nothing should be taken away from him, regardless. The forward’s form has also catapulted him into serious contention for a starting berth with England at the World Cup this summer, with Lingard, at the current time, overshadowing the likes of Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli.
Despite Lingard’s fine form at club level, he is not expected to influence England’s chance of success in Russia too much this summer, with Gareth Southgate’s side still priced as 16/1 outsiders to win the World Cup with bet365’s international football betting markets, with the likes of Germany and Brazil firm favourites.
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Nevertheless, Lingard deserves praise for his form at club level, as the 25-year-old has found an attacking freedom to his game that many didn’t believe he had. Lingard has recorded his best ever goal tally already this season, more than doubling the total he had recorded through his whole senior career at Old Trafford prior to the 2017/18 campaign.
Assists have also flowed for Lingard, who in early 2018 is putting almost £300m worth of talent to shame, with the Englishman digging Mourinho’s side out of trouble on more than one occasion.
Despite the title slipping away, Man United and Mourinho simply have to look at the positives at this stage; they can mount a serious assault on both the FA Cup and Champions League, and with Lingard in the form he currently finds himself in, they boast one of English football’s most talented forwards.