In the eyes of most football fans, a goal or a special assist - as was the case for Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard on Tuesday night - can alter their whole perception about a player’s performance.
Regardless of how badly the player in question might perform before their key contribution, that is all forgotten by the end of the 90 minutes if they score or create the goal that leads to all three points.
It happened to Wayne Rooney against CSKA Moscow last night - the United captain produced another underwhelming display at Old Trafford but scored the winning goal - and it also happened to 22-year-old Lingard.
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While the former England Under-21 international didn’t hide away and enjoyed a few productive moments against the Russian Premier League side, he was also very wasteful in the final third of the pitch.
Paul Scholes said after the match that “everything good came through” the winger - technically he was probably right because so little good actually happened - but would he have been saying that had Manchester United not won the match? Unlikely.
Praise was over the top
All the praise seemed slightly over the top, not just from Scholes but also from many United fans on Twitter, too.
Check out these tweets…
Lingard should be more developed at his age
Yes, it was a superb assist - although only made possibly by Michael Carrick’s fabulous pass - but one moment of quality isn’t enough to suggest Lingard suddenly possesses star potential.
It’s important to remember that we’re not talking about a kid here. Lingard turns 23 next month and, when you compare him to Memphis Depay or Anthony Martial, really ought to be further down the line in terms of his development if he is to become a genuine Manchester United star.
Because United fans have been so starved of moments of individual quality under Louis van Gaal, when they eventually happen - especially when they end a run of three-and-a-half successive matches without a goal - they’re celebrated wildly.
Stats can be misleading
One fan on Twitter pointed out that Lingard’s stats indicate he had a crucial impact on the match, citing his passing accuracy was 88 per cent, he had four shots at goal, five crosses and 12 take-ons.
But it’s vitally important those stats are put into context.
Lingard did have a passing accuracy of 88 per cent - which is pretty decent for a winger - but only one of his four shots were on target, just half of his take-ons were successful, while zero - yes, zero - of his five crosses found a teammate. He was also dispossessed three times.
Had Memphis put up these sort of stats, he would have received dog’s abuse on social media.
It was a largely frustrating performance from Lingard, rescued by one cushioned pass to Rooney - and fans shouldn’t be surprised if he’s back on the bench for United against West Brom on Saturday afternoon.
Manchester United fans: do you honestly believe Jesse Lingard is good enough for the Red Devils for the long term? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!
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