'Old School Manchester United' to Fight for Title Next Term, Says Jesse Lingard

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05:  Jesse Lingard of Manchester United celebrates with teammates Diogo Dalot and Marcus Rashford after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on December 5, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester United attacker Jesse Lingard says the club will be back fighting for the Premier League title next season because caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has helped resurrect their traditional ways.

United have been on an upward trajectory since Solskjaer took charge of the team in December, winning nine and drawing once in their 10 matches under the Norwegian. Lingard told the Daily Mail's Anthony Hay about the "old-school" feeling the manager and assistant Mike Phelan have brought back to Old Trafford:

"Solskjaer and Mike Phelan have brought back the old school Manchester United. They know the league and the club inside out so to pass that on and get us playing how we are has been perfect.

"Solskjaer is doing very well. Nobody can fault him. He has taken a lot on, but he already knew what he was doing when he came in. He got the players backing him straight away.

"He told us there are big expectations and pressure at this club, but we have to deal with it and play like a real United team.

"We will challenge for the title next season if we carry on how we are now. We're back to basics and winning games by grinding out results or scoring a lot of goals. As long as we're winning games that's all that matters."

The club has climbed one place under Solskjaer to fifth in the Premier League, two points off Chelsea in fourth but 14 off Manchester City and Liverpool, who are setting the pace.

Solskjaer previously managed United's under-23s, and it was he who gave Lingard his debut for the reserves in 2010, keeping alive the tradition of posting former players in coaching roles.

A player during Sir Alex Ferguson's finest years at the club, Solskjaer holds an intimate knowledge of United's philosophy. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola predicted in December that his knowledge of their inner workings would lend itself well to the Norwegian, just as it did for him at Barcelona, as Sky Sports shared:

Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews

'It's an advantage for sure' Pep Guardiola believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will benefit from his previous knowledge of Manchester United, as he did at Barcelona. Read full story: https://t.co/31rOz83wKL https://t.co/6eb51W4hY4

Solskjaer's promotion of younger players has only encouraged talk of his traditional United approach, handing more responsibility to the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in particular.

The mood has improved dramatically at the club since Jose Mourinho's firing. The squad travelled to Dubai for warm-weather training in January, and a photograph of Lingard, Rashford and Martial taking advice from Solskjaer on that trip caught a lot of attention:

Marcus Rashford @MarcusRashford

"Seconds left.. Becks whipped in a perfect corner. Teddy flicked it on. The rest is history" 🗣 @ManUtd https://t.co/JFGqwUHZLP

Lingard spoke to the Telegraph's Sam Wallace about that image and the knowledge Solskjaer can imbue in his men:

"It was a clever tweet, that. We know about Ole. He knows the structure of Manchester United, he knows the ins and outs of Manchester United and he knows how he wants us to play, and that's what we have been doing. It is attacking football that Manchester United have always played. When you see the comeback against Burnley...United have always scored late goals. So we are getting back to those habits."

United are the Premier League's form team, having won seven times and drawn once since Solskjaer was appointed. That record includes a 1-0 victory away to Tottenham Hotspur and a sterling comeback from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Burnley.

There's no guarantee Solskjaer will land the United managerial job on a permanent basis this summer, though, per beIN Sports correspondent Carrie Brown:


How far away is #Solskjaer from getting the @ManUtd job on a permanent basis? @CarrieBrownTV has more 👇 #beINPL #MUFC https://t.co/kFbicbC16Q

It may be too late for even Solskjaer to turn the tide this season, but it's encouraging for United to have prospects for the next campaign, such was the dire feeling at the club during Mourinho's final weeks in charge.

Morale has been lifted alongside United's prospects, as Lingard suggests one of England's powerhouses is ready to return to Premier League contention.