It’s a strange relationship that West Ham and Jesse Lingard have. Neither the club nor the man owe each other anything; yet we seem to linger in each other’s wakes, with David Moyes being surprisingly tolerant, and even encouraging, of the constant ‘will they, won’t they’ of Lingard and London.
Lingard originally joined West Ham on loan in January 2021. He made an immediate impact, scoring two goals in his first game for the Hammers, and scored nine goals and four assists in his first 10 Premier League games for West Ham, which was more goals than he had ever scored in a single season for Manchester United. It seemed likely he’d stay, with goals coming in and a spot in the team available to him, and fans and players alike seeming to enjoy life with Lingard – but he surprised us when he made the choice to return to Manchester and fight for his spot.
You can’t fault a player for having a point to prove and wanting to fight for his redemption instead of taking an easy way out. But what he absolutely did not need to do was score one of the best goals of his career against us for Manchester United the following season.
Although Lingard returned to Manchester with bags packed full of determination, it wasn’t enough to secure a place in their team – and the circus that is Manchester United decided they already had enough clowns in the Big Top, thank you very much. Lingard left at the end of the season as his contract expired. You’d be forgiven for thinking Lingard might rush into the waiting arms of his claret and blue former mistress, in fact, most fans assumed that’s exactly what would happen.
West Ham didn’t play coy, and held talks with Lingard about his return – but none of us could have predicted the magnetism and deep financial roots of one Nottingham Forest. On their triumphant return to the Premier League, they brought with them the GDP of a medium sized country and bought everyone they could get their hands on.
We’re not sure what swayed J£s$€ exactly, but he signed a one-year contract that happened to make him Forest’s highest paid player that season. He went on to not score or assist a single goal in the Premier League for them that season, and departed as a free agent.
Like a bad penny, Lingard saw this as an opportunity to yet again flirt with the idea of being an Iron – and David Moyes was surprisingly open to give him a try. Fool me thrice, David, you’d think – and you’d be right. After weeks of training with West Ham and, if rumours are to be believed, being put up and chauffeured around on West Ham’s dime, a short-term contract was offered.
This hope for Lingard to revive his future in east London was even confirmed by his lawyer in his recent court case, stating that West Ham were considering offering him a contract, but it wasn’t to be third time lucky for Lingard and West Ham. After roughly a month of utilising West Ham’s training facilities, the ex-England player has very recently turned his back on West Ham and moved on to warmer climates as he’s begun training with Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifag.
Here’s hoping that this is now enough – and this is Moyes’ last dance with Lingard. The truth is, it’s hard to get excited about Jesse Lingard being a Hammer again, and I’m not going to lose a second of sleep at not adding a drink-driver to our squad.
The aforementioned court case concluded with an 18 month driving ban (running concurrently with an existing 6 month ban) for drink-driving. Lingard acknowledged that he put ‘the lives of others at risk’ by being more than twice over the legal limit and speeding when he was stopped on July 8 of this year.
That is completely unacceptable behavior for anyone, footballer or no. Lingard is not representing consistency on or off the pitch, and playing in a country where alcohol is prohibited might be the opportunity this man needs to get his life and his career back on track. It’s actually quite interesting to see the care and patience that David Moyes has invested in Jesse Lingard; that he keeps giving him chances, even though like the proverbial scorpion, he always ends up getting stung. But even Moyes doesn’t seem so sad that yet again, he couldn’t tether JLingz.
Moyes has insisted that he and West Ham were ‘not disappointed’ that Jesse Lingard had chosen to go Middle East over east London. Moyes actually has a decent team under his belt; a team full of European trophy winners and some really strong new signings, including set piece expert and goal-machine James Ward-Prowse.
Jesse had a lot to offer in his first season at West Ham, but the time for looking backwards has ended.
It’s time to face the future and put this ill-fated romance to bed, once and for all.