Jesse Lingard has enjoyed a remarkable rise this season to become one of Manchester United’s most important players.
Although, up until recently most observers had questioned how the 24-year-old was in United’s squad, let alone starting games.
However, Lingard has put in some sensational performances this season, scoring eight goals and providing four assists in the Premier League, to make his critics eat their words.
Speaking to the Telegraph the former Director of United’s Academy Brian McClair has revealed that for players like Lingard, Marcus Rashford, and Scott McTominay it is often patience that their ability will eventually shine through, that is the key element in their success.
“No one would have taken Jesse Lingard when he was 16 because he had the skeletal age of a 13-year-old,”
“We allowed him to take that opportunity. Scott McTominay had all sorts of problems with his growth. He was growing too fast and his body had to catch up and he missed time through injury. You support them in a different way. At one point we decided to tell him he has got an extra year because he’s fretting about it all the time.
“Jesse was one of the best players all the way through in each age group. He was brave. You just have to wait for them. They are always going to grow, you just don’t know when. They have all the other attributes. The biggest thing is to be patient with them. You have to be. They are going through all sorts of stuff.
“A few have a stellar rise later but you can ask who were the best players in the youngest age groups and the coaches will say Marcus, McTominay, Jesse – even at seven or eight. We had to believe that would continue.
“The biggest challenge for any young boy is getting through puberty: looking at themselves in the mirror, styling their hair, putting smelly stuff on and noticing girls. If they get through that and still love football they have a chance.”
McClair left United in 2015 after over 20 years as a player, coach and Academy director at Old Trafford.