Watch an extended interview with Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford ahead of the Manchester derby, who tell us about their close friendship, desire for trophies and hopes for the future
Academy graduates Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford are set to feature on Saturday when Manchester United face Manchester City, live on Sky Sports.
Both have broken into the first team at Old Trafford after starting out with the club at a young age and both have impressed under Jose Mourinho.
Ahead of the weekend’s clash, they talk to Sky Sports about their journey at Manchester United, their ambitions, England, and how they plan to stop Manchester City winning the title on Saturday…
What is special about coming through the academy at Manchester United?
Rashford: “The biggest thing I can say is it’s like one big family, even though he [Lingard] is four or five years older than me. When you are at U11s and U16s everyone is mingling together and you share the same canteen and whatever you do everyone does it together. That’s the biggest thing that sticks with you.”
Was it quite daunting when you first came?
Lingard: “Yeah definitely. I moved when I was about 12 years old, different school, had to live in digs, it was harder for my family but eventually they understood it was a path that Manchester United had made for me. I had to stick to it and it has paid off.”
Man City vs Man Utd
April 7, 2018, 5:00pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass
Did you ever feel like you have big boots to fill because the club has so much history and so many legends. Did you feel the pressure?
Rashford: “No, because you know that the kids that are there now at U9s and U10s know that already, you get used to it as time goes on and by the time you get to 15 or 16 you don’t even think about it.”
You two are so respected by the academy that you have paintings downstairs…
Lingard: “It’s great to be recognised as a homegrown player coming through the ranks and making it to the first team, we can only thank the staff that have helped us along the way. Some are still here today so it’s always good to bump into them and catch up with them.”
How proud were you to do it because not everybody manages to do what you have achieved?
Rashford: “It’s hard. So many of your friends that you have made, you see some of them go and some stay and then some leave later on; that’s the hardest thing. When you get there and you are playing you are not just playing for yourself. There are a lot of people who shared the same dream that you had so it’s like you are playing for all of them and your family as well.”
Jesse, a lot of the players you came through with have gone now. Does it make it special that you have Marcus and Paul Pogba, who have experienced the same kind of things that you did, in the team now?
Lingard: “The group that I had that won the FA Youth Cup [in 2011] was a special group and Sir Alex [Ferguson] was speaking about us and saying there would be a handful of us that would make it into the first team. Some of us went on different paths and are still playing and we keep in contact. There’s a new era. Marcus came through and Paul is still here as well, so it’s fresh and you have to keep going.”
Derby Day is coming on Sky Sports, with Everton playing host to Liverpool and Manchester United taking on Manchester City in a potential title decider
What made the ‘Class of 92’ such a tight-knit group who achieved what they did?
Lingard: “They came through the ranks together and as a team. The squad that I was in is probably the closest to ever emulate them, but there’s a new era. There’s Marcus and Scott [McTominay] is coming through and Paul is still here. If we can win trophies together over a lot of seasons that would be perfect.”
When you see the youngsters around now, doing what you used to do, does it feel weird that you are now the one they are looking up to?
Lingard: “Yeah definitely, but I think it’s good to be a role model for young kids. There are different paths to the first team, obviously Marcus has got straight in and that’s going well, so there are different people they can look up to. It’s always good to be about and give advice as well.”
Jesse, it’s taken you a bit longer to reach your peak, this season you seem to be a completely different player. What’s happened?
Lingard: “I think it’s development, with me being so small at a young age United knew they had to nurture me in the right way, and sometimes I played down years. It was all good for development and they could see the potential and ability I had at a young age and put their trust in me and it’s paid off.”
One of your coaches, Terry Phelan, described your personality as joyous and mischievous and said it has got you quite a long way?
Lingard: “Since I was young I was a happy kid always playing pranks and jokes with team-mates, which I think is good for the changing room and environment. I still do it now. Obviously there will be different character traits in the dressing room but I’m there to bring happiness and a smile.”
Marcus, what is Jesse like around the training ground? We have seen him on your social media quite a lot and getting in your face…
Rashford: “Because he’s like that all the time it’s good for the team. If you have a bad result or something happens he is the first to forget about it and move onto the next game. If everybody is moping around then you are never going to move on from disappointment, so you have to have that in the squad and he has a lot of it.”
It’s a massive derby for you guys this weekend. How important is the game?
Lingard: “We have played there before and performed and did well so I don’t see why we can’t do it again. The lads’ heads have to be right and we have to 100 per cent focused on our job and get the three points because that’s what we are playing for.”
Is it more important for you because City can win the league?
Lingard: “You have to see it as just a game because if you let other things come into play it might affect your performance so you have to go into it like any other game. You have the lads beside you giving 100 per cent and as long as we perform on the day we can get the three points.”
Marcus you have some good memories there, you got your first away goal there in 2016…
Rashford: “The team played brilliantly that game and we deserved to win. That feeling going away to a big team is something special. To do it together as a team, you hold it with you and it gives you the strength and motivation to continue doing it.”
Jesse, how much is your game now built on confidence and how much has everything you have done this season put you in a better position?
Lingard: I think confidence plays a massive part. If you go into a game confident you will try things and they will come off. Everything around confidence plays a part, at the moment we are all confident and looking forward to this weekend.
We obviously don’t know if you will be going to Russia for the World Cup yet but you are performing well for England. Does it make you proud?
Rashford: “Taking away your performance you are proud anyway just to be playing and be in that position. That’s when you put pressure on yourself to perform. You know you have gone past a lot of people to get where you are today and nobody can take that away from you but at the same time you can’t let them catch up behind you.”
How gelled do you feel at United this season compared to previous seasons?
Rashford: “That kind of thing gets stronger and stronger each year. I remember when the manager first came and we signed a few new players and that summer everyone was getting used to each other. If you compare then to now it’s on a whole new scale. Everyone is like a family and we all fight for each other on the pitch and off the pitch we are just as happy together. It’s a massive improvement.”
What would be a success for United this season and for you individually?
Lingard: “Definitely a trophy. We can win the FA Cup, we have the confidence to win it. And looking forward to the World Cup, if we are in the squad, we have to do well and perform there.”
And finally, what do you have to do to beat City this weekend?
Lingard: “We have to play with that confidence and no fear. If we do that we will win the match and get the three points. We need to have confidence to play, we know it’s a big game but confidence is a big factor.”
Watch Manchester City v Manchester United live on Sky Sports from 4.30pm on Saturday
The only place to watch all three big derbies & Man City’s first shot for the title this weekend with the Sky Sports Premier League channel, £18 a month with no contract.