Manchester United made no purchases in the January transfer window, and with a top-four battle, FA Cup challenge, and qualification for the Champions League round of 16, Ralf Rangnick will have to rely on his depleted squad to produce success in the second half of the season.
During the Christmas break, the Red Devils are fourth in the table, with a game in hand on West Ham United, who are fifth but trail by just one point, therefore it is critical for the Red Devils manager to use the opportunity to separate himself from his rivals by achieving a run of winning form.
When it comes to forming, there are a few players who have failed to live up to the expectations placed on them when they joined the team in the summer, with Jadon Sancho being a good example.
The 21-year-old has yet to replicate his success at Borussia Dortmund during his time at Old Trafford, with just two goals and no assists for the club this season, and when compared to his previous season in the Bundesliga, where he had 16 goals and 21 assists in 38 appearances, there has been a clear decline in his performances.
Jesse Lingard has been tipped to move to Newcastle United or West Ham several times over the last month, but it was reported that the board blocked the move, and now the 29-year-old, who was dubbed “unique” by Manchester United legend Michael Carrick, will see out the final five months of his contract at his boyhood club.
That being said, with the top four race and multiple competitions still in sight for the club, it could be the perfect opportunity to unleash Lingard back into the team to assist, especially since his attacking output is better than Sancho this season with two goals and one assist in just 273 minutes of game time, which is nearly 1000 minutes less than Sancho so far.
We also saw the impact the £80k-per-week maestro had on West Ham during his loan spell, with nine goals and five assists in just 16 appearances in the final months of last season, and this consistent attacking output is something Rangnick desperately needs to ensure he can end the season on a high for the club during his first eight months in charge as interim.
Manchester United will face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Friday evening, and it could be the ideal opportunity for the German coach to give Lingard the opportunity to shine and play a pivotal role in ensuring that the side advances to the next round with ease, giving the club a chance to pick up their first silverware in nearly five years.