Jesse Lingard’s emergence as a star turn for England and Manchester United is “totally down to” Red Devils manager Jose Mourinho, claims Paul Ince.
A 25-year-old Old Trafford academy graduate has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence over recent years, with it looking at one stage as though his future would lie outside of Manchester.
Louis van Gaal was, however, to offer him regular football in 2015-16 and Lingard has not looked back, delivering crucial goals in Wembley showpieces while taking his tally of international caps to 14.
Ince believes Mourinho should take credit for unlocking the full potential of a talented forward, despite claims from United great Paul Scholes recently which suggested that Lingard gets more support from England boss Gareth Southgate than he does his manager at club level.
“I don’t agree with what Paul Scholes has said about Jesse Lingard and Jose Mourinho. Just a few months ago and Lingard wouldn’t have even been considered for the World Cup,” ex-Red Devils midfielder Ince wrote in a column for Paddy Power.
“People forget that it was Mourinho that gave Lingard the opportunity to step up, and you can see how well he’s done because he’s had his best season ever under him this year.
“The reason Lingard is playing so well in Russia is totally down to Jose. He was playing him regularly for United, and stepped up and showed what he’s made of, but Mourinho took that risk, not Southgate.
“If [Marcus] Rashford had played as well for United as Lingard did this season maybe he would be getting more England starts than him, but he didn’t.
“Mourinho has seen Lingard as an impact player and you can see Southgate using those same tactics with him.
“I’m not sure where Scholesy was coming from with this one, everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but from where I’m sitting it’s Mourinho that’s given Lingard the opportunity he has got and he deserves some credit for it. That’s why his form at the World Cup is so impressive and he owes the Man United gaffer for that.”
Lingard was among the goals on his last outing for England, as the Three Lions swept past Panama 6-1 to book their place in the last-16 of World Cup 2018.
Southgate has vowed to make changes to his side for a final Group G fixture with Belgium on Thursday, but it is likely that he will once again called upon a man enjoying the most productive year of his career and one who will want more minutes in order to maintain a consistent level of performance.