I have never subscribed to the cult of Jose Mourinho.
His countless deflections, complaints and straight-up hypocrisy have made him a messiah to some but a supervillain to many.
However, that doesn’t mean he should be deprived of credit where it’s due.
Jesse Lingard’s efforts this season have been as surprising as they have been impressive.
I’ll admit to previously being blind to his potential — I just didn’t see what he offered.
But here we are halfway through the season and he has scored more Premier League goals than Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, Leroy Sane and several other players widely considered to be top tier.
And some of his goals have been truly exceptional as well.
In an incredible exhibition of foresight, Sir Alex Ferguson predicted Lingard’s late blooming back in 2012.
“He is 19, came through our youth system and is built like Jean Tigana was for France,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
“But he [Tigana] never got into the limelight there until he was about 24, and I think that will be the same with Lingard.”
Of course we must once again bow down to Fergie’s omniscience.
Mourinho also deserves credit — Lingard’s flourishing has come under the Portuguese gaffer’s tutelage after all.
Pep Guardiola has been labelled as a genius because of Raheem Sterling’s productive form this season.
The England winger is Man City’s top scorer with 13 goals this campaign and most have heaped praise on Pep’s man-management skills in response.
So why isn’t Mourinho receiving the same congratulations for Lingard’s development?
Just because a video of Mourinho explicitly giving Lingard instructions during an open training session hasn’t gone viral doesn’t mean he hasn’t worked wonders behind the scenes.
Sterling and Lingard have both matured with prolific results but it feels as if in one instance, the manager has taken the credit while in the other, the player is deemed solely responsible.
This may be because right now the narrative of the season is hooked around Guardiola’s brilliance while Mourinho is being portrayed as something of an antagonist.
Or perhaps because Guardiola has a reputation as an attacking coach while Mourinho’s speciality is defence.
While this may be true, it’s reductionist to suggest either of them have no tricks up their sleeve in the other department.
Mourinho is more than capable of instilling confidence and belief in a player who was at risk of losing their way.
While some may not see this as much of a direct cause of a player’s improvement as Guardiola’s technical observations, the results on the pitch are no less impressive.
In the spirit of fairness, I reluctantly declare that both managers deserve equal praise for their respective player’s success.
At least until Mourinho throws Lingard under the bus…