Jesse Lingard’s start to his Nottingham Forest career wasn’t exactly stellar, but he has the chance to extend a stunning historical goal record if he comes back to haunt West Ham.
The 29-year-old has joined the Tricky Trees on a one-year deal – snubbing a return to the Hammers – and made his Premier League debut against Newcastle United last weekend.
Forest were beaten 2-0 and Lingard’s stats didn’t make for good reading.
He managed 24 passes, one key pass and was dispossessed three times in 90 minutes.
He was also booed by sections of the home crowd after Newcastle were briefly linked with him earlier this summer.
So, not the start he would have imagined, but Forest manager Steve Cooper isn’t worried and told the press: “He worked hard and did his best.
“But, as a team, we didn’t get the ball to him or get enough bodies around him. He showed glimpses of his ability. He will be important for us going forward, we just need to be better with the ball.”
Jamie O’Hara also defended the former Manchester United star following criticism of his lukewarm debut, telling talkSPORT: “One thing with Jesse Lingard, which I like is, he doesn’t hide.
“He will always try and receive the ball, even if it’s not really happening for him, he will still try and get into areas and get the ball.
“I think we need to get off his back. Give the guy a chance.
“I know he’s gone there [Nottingham Forest] and he’s earning a few quid and they’ve put some money into it. But give him a break.”
Could a game against West Ham, his former team, get his career at the City Ground up and running?
Well, Lingard enjoyed a spectacular loan spell at the London Stadium in the second half of the 2020/21 campaign.
He directly contributed to 13 goals in just 16 games and helped the Irons qualify for the Europa League.
He was that good for the Hammers that Gareth Southgate recalled him to the England squad.
He didn’t make the cut for Euro 2020, but it still seemed inevitable that he would join West Ham permanently.
The transfer dragged on throughout the summer and, in the end, he remained at Manchester United, where he was barely used.
As a result, he left Old Trafford on a free and had the choice of West Ham or Forest, and went for the latter – so expect him to receive a frosty reception from the travelling contingent on Sunday.
But, after a tough start in a Forest shirt, it’s possible Lingard could become the latest former Hammer to keep an astonishing record alive.
Seven ex-West Ham men have scored their first Premier League goal for their new club against the Irons.
The last man to do this was Cheikou Kouyate, when he joined Crystal Palace.
Therefore, the stage is set for Lingard to open his account against the team that helped him reignite his career and maintain this bizarre trend.
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