Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford are two of the players Manchester United want to succeed the most. As former academy talents, United desperately want the pair to lead the club back to the top.
At present it seems the task is too big for the duo, and they need help.
Lingard had a poor season, managing less than half of the goals and assists he managed the year before. Rashford was excellent early on under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but could not keep it up, and ended the season out of form.
As a result, both players have been getting criticism on social media which at times has gone over the top.
Fan frustrations are understandable. Lingard wants to become a brand like David Beckham, but ‘J Lingz’ is no ‘Becks’, on or off the pitch.
Lingard is seen by his critics as more preoccupied off the pitch than being a success on it, and there is a concern he is leading Rashford astray. Part of the frustration with Rashford comes due to the fact his contract extension is still not signed.
Anger is building
This summer the ill feeling towards the pair has grown, rightly or wrongly. United need to do better at handling it.
Bringing the pair in as analysts for MUTV’s coverage of the Treble Reunion game was a bad move, misjudging the feelings of the fans. It only put the duo back in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
United tried to redress the criticism yesterday by posting an article on the club website talking up how ‘United’s history is ingrained in Rashford and Lingard’.
This plays into the worst of the criticism the pair get. They are seen as getting a free pass or preferential treatment because they are academy players. The article only seemed to stoke up the bitterness on social media.
How to help them
Instead of constantly putting Rashford and Lingard in the firing line, encourage them to stay out of the limelight.
Get the pair focused on football, and cutting back on their own social media activities.
If United really want to give the pair a hand, start with signing players. Landing a top attacking midfielder and a top striker will take the pressure off the duo.
It doesn’t need to be so complicated.