Jesse Lingard

‘We will challenge for the title next season

JESSE LINGARD is backing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to become Manchester United boss on a full-time basis and believes his side will mount a serious title challenge next season after “going back to basics”.

United are unbeaten since Solskjaer was given the reins until the end of the season following Jose Mourinho’s sacking, with the Norwegian guiding his side to an impressive nine wins from 10 games.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino continues to be linked with the Old Trafford hot-seat but Lingard has revealed his team-mates have fully bought into Solskjaer’s philosophy.

Lingard, speaking exclusively to Sportsmail, said: “Solskjaer and Mike Phelan have brought back the old school Manchester United. They know the league and the club inside out so to pass that on and get us playing how we are has been perfect.

“Solskjaer is doing very well. Nobody can fault him. He has taken a lot on but he already knew what he was doing when he came in. He got the players backing him straight away.

“He told us there are big expectations and pressure at this club but we have to deal with it and play like a real United team.

“We will challenge for the title next season if we carry on how we are now. We’re back to basics and winning games by grinding out results or scoring a lot of goals. As long as we’re winning games that’s all that matters.”

Lingard would not be drawn on what proved to be a troubled final few months under Mourinho but he did thank Louis van Gaal for handing him his senior debut in a “make or break” season.

After being shipped out on loan — to Leicester, Birmingham and Brighton — Lingard knew he had to take his chance or risk being sold by his boyhood club.

Van Gaal promoted the Warrington-born star to his first-team squad at the beginning of the 2014-15 season but Lingard’s debut was cruelly cut short after just 24 minutes as he suffered a knee ligament injury.

The Dutchman decided to send the attacking midfielder to Derby in order to get back up to full speed and Lingard, now 26, has not looked back since.

“Van Gaal trusted me,” explains Lingard, who scored an extra-time winner in the 2016 FA Cup final against Crystal Palace under the former Holland boss.

“He put faith in me during what was a make or break season. It was either make it then or go back out on loan, see where you end up and you may have to move on. He gave me the chance to play and I have to thank him for that.”

Solskjaer’s men now face a tough few weeks with United taking on PSG in the Champions League, Chelsea in the FA Cup and bitter rivals Liverpool in the Premier League following their clash with Fulham at the weekend.

Lingard, however, insists his team-mates will relish going up against Europe’s biggest teams in February.

He concludes: “You want to play in those big games — that’s why you play football. The bigger the games, the better. You can’t get bigger than facing PSG in the Champions League at Old Trafford.” —Daily Mail