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24th Jun 2018

Sir Alex Ferguson absolutely nailed his 2012 prediction about Jesse Lingard

Fergie called it six years ago

Darragh Murphy

Sir Alex Ferguson’s prediction for Jesse Lingard’s future is proving to be right on the money.

Given his recent form, it’s easy to forget that Lingard struggled to break into the Manchester United first team as a youngster.

Four separate loan spells in his early twenties made supporters wonder at the time if Lingard would ever make it at Old Trafford, while United legend Bryan Robson has admitted that he doubted the midfielder’s potential because “he was small, he was light and he didn’t show enough to make me believe he could be anything more than a squad player.”

Look at him now.

Lingard has not only developed into a first-team regular under Jose Mourinho at club level but he has proven to be an integral member of the England squad at the World Cup.

While Harry Kane might have scored a hat-trick and John Stones a brace against Panama on Sunday afternoon, Lingard’s contribution was singled out for particular praise and his goal from distance after 36 minutes was the pick of the bunch.

Lingard has undeniably come through adversity to make it but former manager Sir Alex Ferguson never once doubted that the midfielder would come good.

Six years ago, then-United boss Ferguson admitted that Lingard would have to bide his time but would ultimately develop into an elite player.

“Jesse Lingard is going to be some player,” Ferguson told Manchester Evening News in 2012.

“He is 19, came through our youth system and is built like Jean Tigana was for France.

“But he never got into the limelight there until he was about 24, and I think that will be the same with Lingard.

“He will become a player when he’s 22 or so. As an attacking midfielder he has got a really good talent. I think he will be a player we have high hopes for, definitely.”

Lingard is now 25 years old and, like Tigana, he only came of age when he turned 24 so fair play to Ferguson for hitting the nail on the head with this one.