Friday 21 October 2016

Lingard: We've made statement

Rising United star convinced title rivals will feel pressure

Jesse Lingard and Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrate United’s win over Watford
Jesse Lingard and Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrate United’s win over Watford

Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard believes the last-gasp winner against Watford on Saturday sent out a strong statement of intent to their title rivals.

While Arsenal slipped up at West Brom and Manchester City were thrashed by Liverpool, United dug out a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road thanks to an injury-time own goal from Troy Deeney.

Deeney thought he had snatched a draw when he cancelled out Memphis Depay's opener with an 87th-minute penalty, but the Hornets captain undid his good work by bundling in Bastian Schweinsteiger's shot-cum-cross minutes later.

Arsenal and City's defeats mean Louis van Gaal's side move second in the table, one point behind Leicester, and Lingard believes the gutsy win delivered a psychological blow in the race at the top.

"It's massive," Lingard said. "It's a bit of a statement to the other teams, who will look at this and see we've won. It puts a bit more pressure on them, but it's a good feeling to be back up there.

"It was a great way to end the game. I thought it was a scrappy match overall, the conditions didn't help, but we had to keep our concentration throughout and it's great to get the win.


"There are a lot of games coming up, we've got a lot of injuries at the moment and have to adapt to that, I thought we did that well today. As long as we win as many games as we can over Christmas, I think we'll be fine."

It has been an encouraging fortnight for Lingard, who has now started all of United's last three matches as well as earning a late call-up to Roy Hodgson's England squad for the game against France.

The 22-year-old was lively on Saturday too, occupying Watford's defence with a number of dangerous runs in behind while combining well with fill-in forward Depay.

Van Gaal praised both players after the match but Lingard thought he should have put the game to bed before Schweinsteiger forced Deeney's error.

"We created a lot of chances, and personally I should have scored a couple of clear-cut chances," Lingard said.

"I've obviously got to work on that but it's great to see Basti at the back post to stick one in at the end. It's been a long time coming for him, and he's deserved it."

At the weekend Van Gaal also confirmed he would be keen to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.

Former United favourite Ronaldo left the club for Real Madrid in 2009, for a then world record fee of £80million.

He has since become the Spanish club's all-time record goalscorer, but suggestions have persisted that he would be one day open to returning to United.

Ronaldo turns 31 in February, and had an off-key game against Barcelona on Saturday night as Real lost 4-0 at the Bernabeu to their great rivals.

Van Gaal said of possible future transfer activity: "We are looking at all players, not just Ronaldo. But these players are mostly ungettable.

"With Ronaldo, let's wait and hope. There is no trainer in the world that doesn't like him."

Ronaldo won three Premier League titles while at United, who he joined from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, becoming one of Alex Ferguson's most successful signings. He has been FIFA's world player of the year on three occasions.

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