Jose Mourinho would make 'random FaceTime calls' with his Manchester United players, Jesse Lingard reveals as resurgent star opens up on how Bruno Fernandes helped him rediscover his 'aura' on the pitch
Jesse Lingard has opened up on 'random FaceTime calls' with Jose Mourinho as the Manchester United star revealed how support from Bruno Fernandes helped him regain his 'aura' on the pitch.
Lingard, 28, has enjoyed a sensational 2021, with a strong loan spell at West Ham seeing the creative midfielder earn a recall to Gareth Southgate's England squad, while Barcelona and AC Milan are reportedly monitoring the United star.
It has been some turnaround for the Englishman. Lingard enjoyed a strong couple of seasons at United under Mourinho, before injuries and personal issues derailed his career and put him on the outskirts of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans.
And Lingard has revealed that Mourinho - who now manages Italian side Roma - would check in on him using FaceTime as he opened up on their 'good relationship'.
'Me and Jose had a good relationship generally, though, I have to say,' Lingard told The Players' Tribune. 'He was good to me. Before all the injury stuff, he trusted me, put me in for important games. We won trophies and he made me a winner. He could just bring out that side in you.
'He also liked to have a personal connection with his players. Sometimes I'd look at my phone and I'd be getting a random FaceTime from him. Just out of nowhere — just to check in.'
Lingard has played more games under Mourinho - 107 - than any other manager, and explained how the unusual FaceTime calls showed that he cared about his players.
'I used to find it so strange at first. He'd call and be like, "Hey Jesse, what are you doing?" And I'd be like, "Erm, just chilling, watching TV … (awkward silence) … what are you doing?" Hahaha!
'I found it funny. And, to be fair, it showed how much he cared about us. But in terms of injuries, yeah, it was tough, because he didn't want to hear it.'
Just 12 months ago, the forecast looked bleak for Lingard. The 28-year-old was unfancied by Solskjaer and he played limited minutes for United in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign. Lingard said how family believed he had lost his 'aura'.
'Not playing only made things worse. But when I finally did play, even when I was fit again … I wasn't me,' he revealed. 'My family kept coming to games, but they couldn't even watch me. They were like, "This ain't you. This ain't your aura". Games were passing me by like I wasn't there. Like a ghost.'
Lingard's limited playing time at United was not helped by the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, who made an instant impact following his £68million switch from Sporting Lisbon. Yet Lingard explained how the Portuguese's positivity spurred him on while out on loan with the Hammers.
'Bruno Fernandes referred to me as the "best player in the Premier League" in an interview with United … me!! Can you believe that?!? That's coming from Bruno!
'I've got a lot of love for Bruno. He was dropping me messages of support throughout my loan. To get that recognition from someone at his level was just amazing.
'I wasn't overachieving, though. What you saw at West Ham was the player I can be when everything is coming together. Let's say it was an upgraded version of the old Jesse Lingard. Jesse 2.0.'
Lingard is yet to get a consistent run of games for United since returning from East London, but has delivered when required by Solskjaer. He has scored two goals in six games, and believes that he has returned a 'mature' person.
'When I came back to United, I felt like a different person,' he added. 'I'm more mature, more confident. I'm taking more responsibility. To be fair, I've got to credit David Moyes and the West Ham lads for that. Cheers for everything, boys.
'I've been so excited about this season. It might sound like a funny thing to say when you've been at a club all your life, but I have really wanted to show people what I can do.'