Sir Alex meeting sheds light on Jesse Lingard’s recovery from Man Utd setbacks

Jesse Lingard has had to deal with numerous setbacks throughout his career – but his latest recovery is perhaps his most important.

Frozen out by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, Lingard, 28, was shipped out on loan to West Ham last month in the hope that he could resurrect his career.

And he's certainly heading in the right direction, with three goals in four appearances helping the Hammers challenge for an unlikely Champions League spot.

His most recent goal, the winner in Sunday's 2-1 win over London rivals Tottenham, outlined his world-class ability and reminded fans of the talent who has made 210 appearances for United.

Sadly, Lingard has had his fair share of criticism over the years – and this isn't the first time he's had to bounce back from disappointment.

Indeed, during his early years at United, the England ace was struggling to make the jump from the club's junior ranks to the first-team set-up.

And a certain Ferguson, who was in charge at the time, was keen to give the youngster some advice, despite having reservations about his chances of breaking into the starting XI.

Reflecting on a meeting with the legendary Scot, the on-loan West Ham star has previously discussed how Fergie inspired him to keep fighting to forge a successful career.

"I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for Sir Alex. If it weren’t for the main man," Lingard told The Players' Tribune back in 2019.

"One day, he had a meeting with me and my family. He sat us down in his office and he said, 'It’s going to take a while for you, Jesse. We believe in you. But you’re going to have to be patient. You’re not going to be ready for the first team until you’re 22 or 23.'

"I can’t even tell you how massive that was for me and my family. You’d think I’d be disappointed, but when an absolute legend like Sir Alex says they believe in you, that means everything. He didn’t have to meet with us, and he didn’t have to say that to me.

"But that’s why he’s Sir Alex, and that’s why Man United is Man United."

Lingard played the waiting game and was eventually given his first taste of the first-team when Ferguson called him and Paul Pogba up to his squad for a clash with Newcastle.

The forward, 18 at the time, didn't make it off the bench and had to wait until 2014 to make his Premier League debut for Louis van Gaal's United side.

But Lingard will never forget the moment Ferguson gave him his first matchday experience and added: "I’ll never forget the day Sir Alex called me and Pogba up to the bench, away at Newcastle.

"We were 18, 19. I just remember looking around the dressing room and seeing all the legends preparing, pulling their socks on. Scholes. Rooney. Rio. Giggsy.

"Me and Pogs take our spot on the bench, and you know, we were used to playing in reserve games in front of 200 people. This is 50,000. I remember looking up at that massive glass stand at the one end, and it was shaking. And I looked over at Pogs like, Oh my gosh, if the gaffer actually puts me in, I might wet meself.

"Lucky for me, we stayed on the bench that day. But that was such a big moment for me. Just to be thrown into the fire like that, and to get to wear the shirt for Sir Alex, it was massive for my belief.

"The truth is, I probably wasn't ready. I can see that now. Sir Alex was bang-on about what he told me in that meeting years ago. I don't know how he could see it, but he was right."

It seems Ferguson's belief has always inspired Lingard to prove his critics wrong – and at 28 years old, now is the time for Lingard to finally deliver.

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