Jesse Lingard once again produced for Man Utd having come off the whilst summer signing Jadon Sancho is yet to find his feet which could back Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into a corner
It was a tale of two talented English forwards at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Manchester United left the capital and returned north with all three points after an action packed final few minutes that saw Jesse Lingard bag the winner.
Lingard, that man who failed to make a single Premier League appearance in red last term before he was farmed out on loan.
He has since returned as a man reborn following an impressive loan spell with West Ham.
Still, there is no guarantee of regular involvement at Old Trafford such is the quality available to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Lingard struggled for game time last season and that was before Jadon Sancho arrived.
Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)
The young winger had lit up the Bundesliga as a teenager and perfectly suits the brand of football United want to play under their Norwegian manager.
Reality and expectation are two different things however and whilst Sancho arrived to much fanfare, he is yet to produce.
So much so that after just a hand full of games Solskjaer has taken him out of the limelight.
Sancho has offered little in a United shirt but Solskjaer has been keen to defend his summer recruit, who cost the club north of £70m.
He said: “He’s 21, he’s learning the game, he’s learning how we train, he’s learning how we play, he’s learning the Premier League, but he’s come in hungry to learn.
“We knew his talent, and we signed him with the thought that we are going to have a top forward here for the next 10 or 12 years.
“Jadon’s finding his feet, it’s unfortunate that he fell ill just when he was going to come in, so he was out, and he lost a bit of pre-season. But he is working hard and he will be good.”
So there you have it, Sancho sat on the bench at the London Stadium. Alongside a man in Lingard, who has been restricted to substitute cameos, and also made a howler that cost United against Young Boys in midweek.
His short back pass allowed the Swiss side to grab all three points.
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Nevertheless, both he and Sancho were introduced in the second-half against the Hammers as United sought a winner.
Sancho did little, Lingard did a lot. Cutting in from the left his shot left Łukasz Fabiański rooted to the spot.
Both players operating under the weight of expectation and, at present, one seems to be handling it far better than the other.
Sancho is, of course, the fashionable choice so to speak. A summer arrival, big money, big name. Lingard maybe not so, an academy graduate who’s had to battle for his opportunities.
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After the win Solskjaer said: “Jesse was quite clear he wants to fight for his place and be part of a Man United team that is going places.”
Hardly the words of a manager ready to put his faith in the 28-year-old as a starter.
Even at the start of the season Solskjaer seemed to suggest that Lingard would be doing his bit as a squad player this term.
He said: “Of course, I have to leave players out, never mind from the starting XI but from the squad. But they all have to remember and know they’re going to have to play a part if we’re going to be successful.
“Jesse is back to his fitness, he played really well in the behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday and he’s come back bubbly and in good shape. He’s got a big part to play.”
Clearly there’s a determination to make Sancho’s move work, and it most likely will. It is early days and he is immensely talented, even if he hasn’t shown that yet.
That said, if United were to play in a final tomorrow you still get a sense Solskjaer would back his new face over the performing Lingard.
Soon though, for all his chat about playing your part, the Red Devils boss may have to do what’s right for the team and allow Lingard the minutes his performances deserve, even if that costs Sancho.