Jesse Lingard doesn’t give a damn that West Ham fans threw fake notes at him for snubbing a summer return to the London Stadium – Nottingham Forest supporters have already fallen in love with him and he’s starting to pay it back.
- Striker Jesse Lingard picked up an assist for Nottingham Forest against West Ham
- The 29-year-old joined Nottingham Forest in the summer on a free transfer
- West Ham fans threw money at Lingard during the match at The City Ground
- He spent six months on loan at West Ham from Manchester United in 2021
- Lingard gets the last laugh against West Ham when he ends the match for the winning team
Jesse Lingard may be just two games into his Nottingham Forest career, but supporters of one of his former clubs have long since made up their minds about the England international.
Early in Sunday’s game at the City Ground, West Ham fans threw fake banknotes onto the pitch. The message was quite simple to understand: Lingard, they felt, had chosen Forest over the Hammers for the money.
Not that Lingard cares one bit. As things stand, he is only here for one season and if he starts well, the 29-year-old could even play his way back into the England squad in time for this winter’s World Cup, with Gareth Southgate in the stands here. If he maintains good form throughout the season, Forest will have a good chance of staying up and Lingard will again be an attractive free transfer option for many clubs.
Lingard was criticized after opting to join Forest when it was claimed he moved for the money
Fake money was thrown by West Ham fans at Lingard because he chose to join Forest
Lingard’s move is calculated and has drawn criticism, particularly from Gary Neville, another former Manchester United player. It could also go wrong: if Forest slip back into the Championship immediately and Lingard doesn’t shine, it’s hard to see him returning to the upper reaches of the Premier League again.
Against the fans he has angered so much, this was a perfect opportunity to deliver. Lingard scored nine times in 16 appearances on loan from United in the second half of the 2020-21 season and Forest need him to make a similar impact.
After a quiet start to last weekend’s 2-0 opening day defeat at Newcastle, Lingard again lined up just behind the strikers in Steve Cooper’s 3-4-1-2 system. Despite Forest’s dominant start to the game, Lingard struggled to make his presence felt as fellow new signings Taiwo Awoniyi, Neco Williams and Lewis O’Brien impressed against David Moyes’ men.
Jesse Lingard (left) played with Declan Rice (right) during his loan spell at West Ham United
When West Ham broke from a Forest corner, Lingard tried and failed to keep up with Said Benrahma. The striker collected a return pass from Declan Rice and slotted past Dean Henderson, only for the goal to be ruled out after a foul by Michail Antonio on another new Forest boy – there were eight of them in total in the starting XI – Moussa Niakhate. A late-off for the home team.
At the other end, Lingard played a key role in Forest’s opener, although it would not be among his most memorable moments.
Harry Toffolo did excellently to find space on the left and when he looked up, Lingard had cleverly found space between the penalty mark and the six-yard box. A goal on his home debut was there for the taking, but Lingard misfired his shot horribly. Does not matter.
Jesse Lingard set up Nottingham Forest’s first-half goal against his former side West Ham
As it bounced towards goal, Lingard’s effort bounced off West Ham defender Ben Johnson and onto the calf of Awoniyi, who was closing in. The double rejection left Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski helpless, and seconds after the break Forest led.
Henderson saved a penalty from Rice and made a number of key interventions, while Pablo Fornals and Benrahma both hit the underside of the bar.
Although it’s clearly not a good fit yet, Lingard’s every touch was cheered by Forest fans who have already fallen in love with him. In the coming weeks, his challenge is to pay it back.