I’m getting a bit sick of it to be honest. Football pundits old and new, people in the game with knowledge and experience, people outside the game just wanting to have their say on the matter, it seems everyone is talking about it, the fact little old Nottingham Forest ‘dare’ last week offer out of contract former Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard a place to play his football.
The catalyst for the controversy is that it seemed for long periods that Jesse, or JLingz, as he likes to be known, was on his way to West Ham United. A club he did well at a year and half back, a club that failed to sway him away from his final year at Old Trafford last season, and a club that caught themselves napping, over a month after Lingard became available this summer.
Truth is… West Ham United had ample opportunity to ‘get there man’. This, if they wanted him ‘badly enough’ could have been wrapped up in January, it could have been wrapped up in May, the fact it wasn’t wrapped up even in late-July, well that stinks to me of something not sitting right within.
Enter Nottingham Forest… Lingard had ‘reportedly’ been offered a ‘deal’ by West Ham, although the intrinsics of that offer have not been yet revealed (I would love to know). Rumours the Reds wanted to prize him Trentside with astronomical amounts of money… £200,000 a week even… At £10.4m a year with no transfer fee to pay… Is it really that ‘astronomical’ for a player who’s played for England 32 times and who’s scored in World Cups & FA Cup Finals? For example West Ham themselves have reportedly paid near this (in fee & wages) for their understudy goalkeeper from Paris, this summer.
The actual ‘wages’ of Lingard, are said to be much lower than initially sensationalised, sorry, reported by the media. Nearer £80,000 a week, rising to £120,000 on performances, but I’m sure he’ll get well looked after if he keeps Forest up, and that apparent looking after, by the club, is seemingly something that the football world’s hierachy does not like?
TV Presenter Richard Keys (remember him?) stating “Lingard would have been better at West Ham” whilst footballers, like Carlton Cole, have been ‘gobsmacked’ that a peer dare choose ‘another’ club instead of the Mighty Hammers. “It must be for the money” dares the many on Twitter to announce? Well it certainly can’t be for silverware won at West Ham?
So what if it is the money? A short career, Nottingham Forest ‘might’ pay more than West Ham United in salary, but the one argument I cannot stand, is that a move to West Ham, would be so much better ‘through football reasons’ for Lingard?
Nottingham Forest have serious ambition under Evangelos Marinakis, a man who’s Olympiakos side dominates Greek football and who regularly appear in the Champions League, a man who is used to getting success through investing millions, when I compare him to that of David Gold and David Sullivan, and their achievements first, underwhelmingly at Birmingham City, and now, at West Ham United, in tearing the soul away from that once proud but hostile club by moving them from the hugely intimidating Boleyn Ground to an un-atmospheric athletics arena for their own financial benefit, to season after season, investing in pure low-risk budget footballers often from the Championship or Czechoslovakia, to challenge Europa Slots and nothing above with one eye worryingly stared at those beneath and to not fall in that trap, conceding reality that they will ‘never’ catch the ‘big six’, from Jesse Lingard’s situation, to sell him and his representatives West Ham United Football Club? how exciting is that? Coming from Manchester United to be told he’s really wanted in Nottingham instead, a club ‘going places’ with no ceiling cap? Perhaps he’s been sold a dream by Marinakis? Perhaps the money helps? Perhaps it’ll all go to shit and Forest will get relegated this season coming? But in taking a chance, being part of something bold and daring, being the main man at a new club with new identity and new ideas… Well that’s pretty exciting too?
Now understandably, this transfer in question would hardly be of interest to those who can’t even tell the difference from an Awoniyi to a Niakhate, if Lingard hadn’t had the bursting ‘social’ bubble that includes over 9.7m Instagram followers, 2.9m Twitter followers and 1.2m Tik Tok fans… All largely intrigued by the footballers comical and slightly uneasy dancing ability.
Personally, I’m not a fan of it, a little bit silly is all this attention seeking when you already have fame for being good at something, perhaps he should, in particular when the chips are down, play it down much more than he does, to be more serious, and professional, but there is a market for the brand that is JLingz, there is money to be earned and I can’t fault him for making it, there is a ‘gap’ that Nottingham Forest can even exploit. Lingard’s social presence is huge, that even bigger than Nottingham Forest Football Club, who in comparison have just 390,000 Instagram followers. Anticipate through Lingard alone, for that number to reach over a million, where again there’s more funds to be had upon this savvy business decision by City Ground bosses in taking in the Warrington born man and his army of fans.
Where I agree with the likes of Simon Jordan, outraged by the players social antics and lack of game time last season, for Jesse Lingard, now nearing 30 years of age, yes it is time to grow up. It’s also time to put football first. Lingard has expressed his ambition to still represent England in the World Cup, whilst there are no guarantees at Forest, playing games and doing well in Nottingham, would give him a good opportunity to do just that.
West Ham United fans might well be angry and bitter that Lingard didn’t sign for their club, and they should be, whilst laying the finger at those who did the negotiating on their clubs behalf, because they missed out on a good bloody player (not for the first time recently), but what is a West Ham problem, is certainly not a Nottingham Forest problem, a club who’s miraculously been promoted via the Playoffs, after being bottom of the Championship table in September last year, the Reds are simply doing their bit, in signing top footballers, to have a go at creating new history, in trying to not just stay in the Premier League, but to make something happen, and whether it falls on it’s arse or not, you cannot blame them, after 23 years absence, for having a bloody good go at it.
Time will tell of course, come tell me i’m wrong in May, but I think Jesse Lingard signing for Nottingham Forest, is a bloody good bit of business for all involved, except for West Ham of course, who only have themselves to blame after missing out!
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @NFFC Jesse Lingard has already caused controversy following his transfer.