Manchester United fans cannot underestimate how crucial Monday's victory over Everton was to their season.
Defeat in the Manchester derby as well as bitterly disappointing draws with Leicester City, Burnley and Southampton looked to have killed any hopes of the Premier League title. Rather unexpectedly, Jose Mourinho was now turned his attention to maintaining a place in the top four.
After a cautious first-half at Goodison Park, United eventually made the breakthrough with Anthony Martial scoring from his new number nine role.
Jesse Lingard then joined in on the act, adding a second goal for the Red Devils and extending his winter purple patch into 2018.
There were no surprises when the Englishman was nominated Manchester United's December Player of the Month, hoarding 85 per cent of the vote as Juan Mata and Phil Jones finished up short.
And one of the ex-players to come out and praise the 25-year-old is none other than Gary Neville.
In his latest podcast, Neville addressed the Englishman's form and perfectly explained why Man Utd fans love him and two other key players right now.
The 42-year-old detailed: "On the subject of key players, Jesse Lingard's improvement has shown he has everything you want from a Manchester United player.
"Not in terms of skills necessarily but in terms of passion, commitment and loving the badge. Those are the most important characteristics for United players. Those players will always deliver more.
Lingard has taken residence at Old Trafford for 17 years now and it's no surprise the local lad has shown so much passion for the club in recent weeks. In the opinion of Neville, though, he isn't alone.
"United is a big place to play and you have to have the desire and resilience. I've heard people challenge him, saying he's not good enough, saying get Henrikh Mkhitaryan in, get Anthony Martial in. No, let's get Lingard in because he has all of the characteristics you want," Neville continued.
"People are viewing this period as a difficult period but he, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are shining like lights because they've got the underbelly and fight.
"What fans want is loyalty and care for the shirt and that is such an important characteristic. It shouldn't be underestimated what that has been to United since the '90s."
There's no doubting Lingard, Valencia and Young's form this season, even if their strong links to United are the inspiration or not.
If Mourinho can ensure every player in the starting XI matches their performance then an upsurge in form would be inevitable. A pursuit of City, though, would not.
Who do you think has been Manchester United's best performer this season? Have your say in the comments section below.
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