Lingard’s start to this season has brought me a mix of emotions since I hoped he would return to the London Stadium. The once admired player of mine, choosing a newly promoted side over European football showed a clear example of ‘money chasing’.
Therefore, it was interesting to see him deny this, telling SoccerAM: ‘I could have gone abroad for a lot, lot, lot more money, life changing money.’
This seems baffling to me, claiming he isn’t focused on the money, considering the short length of his contract.
Indeed Forest fan Keenan Sommes told me his short length contract makes it look like ‘he’s come for some money and thinks we’re going down’.
Conversely another Forest fan, James Mcdermott, said: ‘We only need him for one year to keep us up and then we can move forward with other options.
‘Also, it’s a free transfer so paying more than usual on wages doesn’t seem like the end of the world to me.’
Watching Lingard’s interview it seemed almost oxymoronic, from bold claims of a sole focus on football to plugging his various business ventures. This being his clothing brand, a media company and his rather bizarre endeavour of becoming an actor.
However, one statement stood out to me, when mentioning his journey to joining Forest.
‘The owners were very strong in their approach, they went overboard to get me here and when I see that kind of appreciation, it’s hard to say no really.’
This made me wonder if West Ham’s dealings are losing the club the opportunity to sign star talent?
In spite of this, I have actually been pleased with some of the signings this year, finally signing a promising striker after a painfully long time. I believe we just didn’t want him as much as Forest, which is why their persuasion shone through.
When August 14 came, I was curious how Lingard would perform against us. One thing was for sure, I desperately did not want him to score. I remember shouting ‘Anyone but him’ when he charged towards our box. That game I could rant about for hours.
The penalty miss, smacking the crossbar multiple times or Antonio’s NFL takedown of Mangala cancelling out our only goal, to name a few.
With his performance having little merit, I was at first relieved to see his poor, slow-paced shot in the first half’s stoppage time. This shot then to be clumsily flicked on by Ben Johnson into Awoniyi, claiming the eventual winning goal however was extremely frustrating.
The only upside of a real painful watch, was seeing Lingard put in a pretty poor performance and a rather humorous moment when he stepped up to take a corner. West Ham fans showering our ex-player with fake bank notes, I thought, provided a rather comical response to our fanbase’s opinion on his decision to move to Nottingham.
Returning to the London Stadium in February, I think his presence might not spur any more comical displays but he undoubtedly will not be welcomed like last year.
Reflecting on his performance James said: ‘I’ve seen nothing special yet but he hasn’t performed badly either.’
Keenan added: ‘It looks like other players might up their efforts like Brennan Johnson, who is sometimes low energy.
‘Seeing a player of Lingard’s quality, who presses a lot, he looks more up for it.’
James went on to say he believes Lingard is definitely worth it. ‘We need to get him on the ball more to influence games.
‘I believe we have the quality in the squad now to stay up and the right manager at the helm who knows what he’s doing and understands the club.’
I, on the other hand, am more pessimistic on the quality Lingard is adding, with his recent performances. I don’t think he will be a complete flop though and I personally loved having a character like him in the dressing room.
Comparing Declan Rice dancing with Lingard in 2020 to his recent depressing Brighton post match interview makes me wonder if we need another character like Lingard. As Rice mentioned, with big characters like Noble, Fredericks and Martin leaving it changes the dynamic.
Even though they didn’t have a direct impact on the pitch in recent years, they would have a great impact in the dressing room, training and morale.
Will any of these new players be able to fill the great void left by our old skipper, who had become such a huge character in his many years at the club? That’s an obvious no! But hopefully as our squad grows and we start winning again we can create a new, positive atmosphere, which will give us more nights like our second leg against Sevilla.
And let’s hope that morale will be there in February and we can batter Forest when Lingard returns.