Manchester United’s lack of forward planning has left them in an all too familiar spot of bother after the reported collapse of contract talks with Jesse Lingard,
While the international break is often seen as a rhythm-interrupting nuisance, for Man United, it was a reprieve.
While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fled to his native Norway for some respite, United’s lack of action kept them out of the headlines.
But even before a ball has been kicked as Premier League football makes its return, the Red Devils have already been thrust into the limelight once more, by one of their own.
The latest development in Lingard’s contract stand-off with United, the club he has been tied to since the age of seven, suggests that talks have collapsed amid a swirl of broken promises.
After being denied a summer move to West Ham, the club he dazzled at during a European football-securing loan spell in the second half of last season, Lingard was expected to reignite his United career.
However, much like the contract talks, it has very much stalled.
Despite the suffering endured by Solskjaer’s side on the pitch, Lingard has barely been granted a look-in, in what must be interpreted as a demoralising lack of trust after the 28-year-old more than proved his worth during his time with the Hammers.
Lingard’s discontent at a lack of assurances have put United in an embarrassing spot of bother.
The midfielder has unsurprisingly attracted a whole host of admirers from the Premier League as well as Europe and, if rumours are believed to be true, holds all the cards in this particular contract saga.
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At present, having failed to agree terms over a new deal, Lingard looks set to depart United on a free transfer next summer with the potential to pick from his long line of suitors and sign a pre-contract agreement as early as January 1.
To lose one of the most promising academy graduates the club has produced in recent years for nothing epitomises the current mess United find themselves in.
The post-Sir Alex Ferguson hangover, which at one stage looked to be dispersing, appears heavier than ever. And this isn’t the first time United have been publicly humiliated amid contract stand-offs.
Paul Pogba’s continued refusal to commit means United look set to lose the man who set them back a club-record £89million fee in 2016 for nothing next year. The lack of long-term planning and organisation is calamitous.
Ahead of the weekend trip to Watford, Solskjaer addressed the speculation surrounding Lingard, admitting he understood the midfielder’s frustrations, while insisting he has a part to play in the coming weeks.
“Every player wants to play as much as possible,” Solksjaer responded.
“The thing with Jesse and all my players is they are working hard. I can’t fault the attitude and they’re ready when they’re called upon, when they’re playing.
“Jesse has done well when he’s played for us. He knows that with all the games coming up, that he’s going to play a part.”
The trouble is, it’s something Lingard would have heard before. When entrusted with minutes this season, he has impressed, netting two stunning goals against Newcastle and West Ham, despite all but one of his eight appearances coming from the bench.
The clocking is ticking for United to salvage the situation, and with it, some pride.
While it may be too late to convince Pogba to stay, Solskjaer must show his faith in Lingard, granting him his wish of more game-time with the aim of resolving the contract debacle.
The Red Devils have stuck by Solskjaer despite calls for him to go because he understands the club’s values and doing things the ‘United way’.
Now it’s time for him to prove that by listening to Lingard’s warnings and looking out for one of their own.