After a disappointing season with Manchester United, it looked as though Jesse Lingard’s career was over. But then he was sold to English Premier League club West Ham.
Jesse Lingard is a young English footballer who plays for Manchester United. In March 2017, he was sent on loan to West Ham United for the rest of the season. At West Ham, he became a key player for the team, playing a major role in their promotion to the Premier League. After finishing the season, a report by The Guardian claimed that the club would want to keep him next season, while manager Slaven Bilic hoped he would return.
West Ham United have been in the headlines of late due to the success of striker Andy Carroll and the record signing of Greek international Greece international Giannis Maniatis, but the man himself, Jesse Lingard, has also had a resurgent campaign. The 24-year old spent last season on loan at Premier League rivals Birmingham City and has since taken on a much more prominent role at Old Trafford, making 30 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring three goals in the process.
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Dawson, Rob Correspondent
Jesse Lingard believes he used his loan transfer to West Ham as a chance to’reset the clock.’ courtesy of Getty Images
The words “European Championships” were scrawled on a whiteboard in Jesse Lingard’s Stratford flat’s window, which overlooked the London Stadium.
It may have looked like a lofty goal when Lingard joined West Ham on loan from Manchester United in January, but it was no surprise when England manager Gareth Southgate announced his preliminary team for Euro 2020 in May. His excellent form at West Ham helped him turn things around, but he also had the support of a close inner circle that included his brother, Louie Scott, and UEFA Pro Licence coach Alexandros Alexiadis.
This is how they resurrected Jesse Lingard’s career by transforming him into Jesse 2.0.
Scott tells ESPN, “It’s been a tremendous team effort.” “I introduced Alex [to Jesse] near the conclusion of the [2019-20] season, and he simply began to analyze and examine Jess, looking at certain specifics in terms of what his qualities are, what his strengths are, and how he can impose them a little bit more.”
“It was simply a matter of paying a little more attention to detail and putting in a little more effort to ensure we got the best outcomes possible. It all came down to habit and performance consistency. We know what can happen when you go off the ladder and how far you may fall, so we’ve had to take it in stride, work hard again, and lay a new foundation.”
Scott and Alexiadis, who have been friends for ten years, started spending hours together analyzing games and training sessions, as well as trying to restore Lingard’s confidence when he fell out of favor at Old Trafford during the 2019-20 season.
They needed to wait. Lingard, who rose through the ranks at United and made his first-team debut at the age of 21 in 2014, struggled for playing time at the start of the season, making just two outings in the Carabao Cup against Luton Town and Brighton.
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When the January transfer window opened, West Ham won a bidding war for his services, but it was expected that he would need time to settle in after not playing in the Premier League since July. Instead, he scored twice in West Ham’s 3-1 victory against Aston Villa on February 3, less than a week after the transfer was revealed.
Even when Lingard was ignored at United, Scott and Alexiadis instilled in him the mantra “don’t be ready, remain ready,” and it paid off.
“When he played against Aston Villa, it was one of the main things we could observe,” Scott adds. “He ran 12 kilometers, scored two goals, and played the most of the 90 minutes, making a significant impact.” Most people assumed he’d come in for the last 30 minutes to refuel the tank, but he’d been so professional even when he wasn’t playing that he’d already reached that level.
“It wasn’t as simple as taking out a loan and saying, “OK, let’s create a plan.” Because he wasn’t playing, the results weren’t there for the first six or seven months. We knew it wasn’t going to be a fast cure, so we had to wait for the opportunity to see what we had in mind come to reality.”
Lingard, who is 28 years old, describes his transfer to West Ham as “a lifeline.”
“It was all about resetting the clock,” he says ESPN.
“The objectives and goals pushed me and forced me to focus. Being away from Manchester and in a fresh environment was very beneficial. My mind was clear, and I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish. In the end, everything worked out wonderfully. People who watched the game at Villa said, “Oh, he’s back,” but those closest to me, my friends and family, understood it was there all along. It was just a matter of having an opportunity to demonstrate it.”
Lingard’s game was transformed thanks to extensive video analysis of hundreds of hours of film. courtesy of Getty Images
Lingard set a goal of three goals and two assists in his first six games for West Ham, but he had to immediately adjust his expectations.
“At first, I was aggressive; I was like, ‘eight goals, six assists,’ and Louie was like, ‘no, let’s make it fair,’” Lingard chuckles. “Before the Arsenal game, it was three goals and two assists to attempt to get into the England team for the March internationals, but we revised it to six goals and five assists after that.”
“After that, it was simply a matter of working hard and attempting to irritate them while also assisting West Ham since my primary goal was to assist West Ham in getting into Europe.”
Lingard completed the season with nine goals and four assists for West Ham, who placed sixth and qualified for the Europa League. He was named Premier League player of the month and goal of the month in April, and was selected by Southgate for England’s March internationals. He missed out on reaching the final cut for Euro 2020 by a whisker.
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Lingard was able to fit into David Moyes’ squad thanks to a thorough video study of hundreds of hours of film supervised by Alexiadis, who is currently the head coach of the Greece Under-17 team after six years at PAOK FC. He was also given a comprehensive breakdown of his future opponents as well as the players who were most likely to target him. Lingard would view footage on the way to games and have regular Zoom conversations with Alexiadis.
“The team couldn’t change for Jess,” Alexiadis says ESPN. “Jess has to discover what he can accomplish with West Ham.” “You must figure out how Jess’ abilities may benefit West Ham. He was able to score goals because he was able to rapidly grasp West Ham’s ideas. Jess will almost certainly score or get an assist if he can identify two or three key items in a game. I can teach him three or four situations where he can utilize his talents before a game.”
Lingard chuckles as he recalls one example of Alexiadis’ advice: “When I received the ball against Leicester, they were suggesting I may not be able to turn because they play a high line,” he recalls.
“When I first received the ball, I turned and Jonny Evans slammed into me, and I thought to myself, ‘oh yes, Alex said don’t turn, OK.’ Little things like that, which he told you before a game, stick with you.” Lingard scored twice in West Ham’s 3-2 victory against Leicester.
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Alexiadis demonstrated to Lingard how Wolves were vulnerable to driving runs from midfield before the trip to Molineux. Lingard picked up the ball on the turn in his own half after six minutes, raced forward, beat three defenders, and scored to put West Ham up 1-0. They came out on top 3-2. Lingard may harm them in two different ways in two separate games against sides that are built up differently.
“We can show him what he can accomplish and what he can do more of using the videos,” Alexiadis adds. “For me, I concentrated on what he can do better. We’ll figure out the following step once he succeeds with anything. Jess was enthusiastic about it, which is crucial.
“You won’t be able to play every game flawlessly. You are a football player, not a robot. You can’t also describe every game before it takes place. You will be taken out of the game at times, or you may be required to solve an issue while playing. During games, Jess has altered his mindset. Although various games have distinct approaches, we can still find a method for Jess to utilize his traits and abilities.”
Scott continues: “Alex has been fantastic in terms of post-match and pre-match analysis of teams and players. He offered us a new, more cerebral perspective on how to analyze a game without being too emotional.”
Lingard utilized a whiteboard with motivating slogans and phrases to get in the proper mentality before a game. courtesy of Getty Images
Lingard is on hand to bolster his brother’s argument with yet another example.
“There wasn’t much room to run with the ball in the Burnley game,” he recalls. “After the game, Louie says ‘you should have ran with the ball more,’ but Alex, from a coaching standpoint, says ‘no, it’s not the game to run, it’s second balls versus Burnley.’
“You’ll get two distinct viewpoints. It’s beneficial because you need the emotional support of family members as well as the objective viewpoint of a coach who can see things from a different perspective.”
Off the field, the focus has been on attitude and mindset.
Scott unveiled the “Jesse 2.0” whiteboard, which included one sheet of data and goals and the other covered with motivating words. Some were quotes from Lingard’s career, such as “three cup final goals,” while others were phrases like “belief,” “aggression,” and “leadership” to remember throughout the day.
Lingard explains, “It’s just small reminders.” “I’d go to bed and hear Louie putting the board out, so the board would be up as soon as I went for training or a game, and it’d be small words or phrases that would stick in your memory.”
“I’d have him give me a sentence before he went for training,” Scott chuckles. I’d say ‘give me something’ just before he left, and he’d reply ‘intensity,’ and then he’d be out the door. There was a lot of good energy and a pleasant attitude in the room.
“I wanted to make sure he was thinking in a subliminal way. All of his targets were visible, as were his objectives. One of the most important objectives was to reclaim a spot in the England squad for the Euros, and we were so close.”
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Lingard has scored in an FA Cup final, an EFL Cup final, and participated in a World Cup semifinal, but he admits that he needed a reminder of how excellent a player he is during a tough time in his career.
“I believe so, without a doubt,” he adds. “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in myself; it was simply a lack of confidence. Because I hadn’t played before, I was lacking in confidence.”
The greatest difference Alexiadis has seen in Lingard over their 18 months together is his confidence. “I’ve seen an increase in confidence, and that’s a good thing,” he adds. “You won’t be able to lose your abilities. He was one of the most prominent players for three or four years. You can’t forget it, but you must have the courage to demonstrate it again.”
Lingard is back at United this summer, practicing at the club’s training facility in Surrey, just outside of London, in preparation for the upcoming season.
He returned to training only days before the first preseason friendly against Derby County, when he came in at halftime and was one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s greatest performers in a 2-1 victory. If a powerful effort from 20 yards had slipped under the crossbar instead of smashing into it, the score would have been 3-1.
Lingard has already started up where he left off at West Ham with the assistance of his brother and Alexiadis, despite the fact that the new season is still three weeks away.
“Working with Alex and Louie has increased my attention, concentration, and maturity in taking responsibility for my own growth,” adds Lingard.
“I didn’t have any particular objectives or aspirations before Alex, but they’ve definitely helped.” I understand what I need to accomplish in order to play and make the squad.
“It’s just friendly games for now, but I’m taking them seriously.” I’m not going to take any prisoners. I don’t have to prove myself to anybody; everyone knows what I’m capable of. In my mind, I know what has to be done.
“More is on the way; for now, it’s only scratching the surface. We’ll have targets once again. For the first half of the season, we’ll have some goals, and then for the second half, we’ll have some goals. My whiteboards have returned to my home in Manchester. There isn’t anything up yet, but it will be soon.”
Keep an eye on this.
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