Jesse Lingard has opened up on his time at Manchester United in a candid interview.
The midfielder spent 22 years with United in all, joining the club at the age of nine and going on to make 149 Premier League appearances at senior level. But his time came to a bitter end last summer after he allowed his contract to run down before joining newly promoted Nottingham Forest on a free transfer.
Now, in an honest interview on the Diary of a CEO podcast, Lingard has opened up on his struggles at Old Trafford, what went wrong and some of the reasons behind United’s issues over recent years. One of the big factors behind Lingard’s eventual exit was his bust up with former interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who blocked a loan move for the England international despite not giving him regular game time.
Opening up on the situation, Lingard said: “I had a year left. I wanted to go on loan in January because I wasn’t playing again. Newcastle were on the cards and the deal was done. United’s squad wasn’t big enough to let people go on loan. He (Rangnick) rang me, and he said ‘I can’t let you go on loan’. I said ‘just let me go on loan, I just want to play football.’ He said ‘what do you want, days off?’. I was like ‘no, I just want to play football’.
“This is the whole thing that happened. They stopped the loan. Because of what he said, I messaged him and I was like, do you know what, I’m going to take two days off now, just because he said that. So then they put it out in the media, ‘Jesse has asked for two days off’. I went on twitter and said I didn’t ask for two days off, he asked me if I wanted days off. I put it out there.
“When things are getting said about you that aren’t true, you’re going to voice your opinion. It wouldn’t have happened back in the day, it would have been squashed by Sir Alex, but players have a platform now. There’s no control, no structure or balance. People do what they like. It’s like a free-for-all.
“Like what happened with Paul (Pogba), he is one of the best midfielders in the world, I’ve known him since he was 16. It didn’t happen at United, so something is wrong. Like with Alexis (Sanchez). I enjoyed my time under Jose (Mourinho) there. I had one of my best seasons there.”
Lingard also discussed some of the issues at United, which were highlighted by Cristiano Ronaldo in the infamous interview that got the Portuguese superstar sacked.
He added: “They are so behind with everything. You see City’s facilities, Tottenham’s facilities. They have gone miles ahead. Even the social side of things. They are behind on everything. They need to get up to date on everything. You want the best things, as a player. You want the best food, you want the swimming pool and the jacuzzi, It’s still there, but it has to be more modern. They are way behind at the moment.”
Asked about the best managers at United in recent years following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, Lingard, who left before Erik ten Hag’s arrival, replied: “Probably (Louis) van Gaal, to be honest. He had a structure. Everyone understood what he wanted - I loved him. He was very tactical. Then Jose, he is one of the best managers in the world.”
Lingard eventually left to join Nottingham Forest, and many were surprised by his decision to take a gamble on a newly promoted club, especially when he had interest from the likes of former loan club West Ham United and others. But the England international explained that the abuse he received during his time at United caused him to suffer from mental health issues, leading him to a move somewhat away from the spotlight.
“I was drinking before bed, having a nightcap,” admitted Lingard. “I look back now and think 'what was I doing that for?' But I needed something to try and take the pain away. I was trying to forget what was going on. But it makes it 10 times worse. You're getting that much abuse, and I'm already down enough, and I've got to perform.
“I was still trying to be Jesse, like banter… banter jokes and all that but, of course it's going to affect me. I'm already going through things you don't know about… I felt like the world was on my shoulders.”