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Manchester United 2016-17 Player Report Cards: Jesse Lingard

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United supporters’ designated player over whom we must argue constantly.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It is known: all football squads, no matter the club, no matter the level, contain at least one player that nobody can agree on. At various times over the last few years, United fans have been unable to come to a consensus over Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Jonny Evans, and even, shamefully, Dimitar Berbatov, despite the Bulgarian being a pure velvet creature of sensual perfection. Now, as José Mourinho settles into Old Trafford, it's Jesse Lingard.

Let's leave aside his divisive social media presence, for the internet isn't big enough to reach a resolution between 'he's an undignified clown' and 'I hate seeing young people having fun'. Let's think about the pitch, and what he does when he's there. Briefly: he works hard, always, in a number of positions; he gels well, occasionally, with Marcus Rashford; he scores, when given the chance, in cup finals.

Manchester United FC v Feyenoord - UEFA Europa League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Set against this is a kind of general sense that he isn't particularly useful. That all that buzzing around doesn't do much to help Manchester United win football games, which is kind of the point. Admittedly, the same could be said of quite a few players this season; United don't win enough games in general, and that's not just on Lingard. But wherever he plays, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that United could be picking somebody a little more inventive, more explosive, more likely to summon something from nothing.

What we do know, however, is that his manager likes him. After all, that short list a couple of paragraphs above is essentially the Mourinho checklist for 'useful squad player', and Lingard was appropriately rewarded earlier in the season with a contract extension. Best to make your peace with him, we reckon. He's probably not going anywhere.

José Mourinho approval rating: a quick ruffle of the hair, and maybe a cheek pinch.