At one point this season Jesse Lingard was the whipping boy of many Manchester United fans. On Tuesday he was Jose Mourinho’s saviour as his two goals rescued a 2-2 draw against Burnley when the manager had earlier appeared to have sabotaged himself by selecting Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a number 10.
After the embarrassment of their Carabao Cup exit to Bristol City last Wednesday and the late concession of an equaliser to Leicester City on Saturday, the last thing Mourinho and United needed was to stumble against Sean Dyche’s side. But the United boss decided to rest the in-form Lingard in favour of the Swede despite the change it would make to the side’s approach in light of the two players’ vastly different styles.
The decision to start with Ibrahimovic in the No.10 spot backfired spectacularly. The Swede may well have the skill-set to pull off the role under normal circumstances but this was his first Premier League start in nearly nine months and, with his body still showing significant signs of wear and tear as a result of his long injury lay-off, he was unable to provide the artistry and sharpness normally demanded of the creative man playing off a main striker.