Jesse Lingard has taken a thinly-veiled swipe at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for not giving him a chance at Manchester United before his loan move to West Ham last month.
Lingard, 28, decided to join the Hammers on loan until the end of the season after falling out of favour under Solskjaer at Old Trafford.
The England international only made three appearances for United in the first half of the campaign, with none of them coming in the Premier League, and was also restricted to just nine top-flight starts last season.
Bruno Fernandes’ arrival from Sporting Lisbon in January of last year, and his inspirational form on the pitch ever since, pushed him even further down the pecking order.
Lingard therefore departed United in the January transfer window to sign for David Moyes’ side until the end of the season, and he got off to a flyer by scoring twice on his debut against Aston Villa earlier this month.
The midfielder insists he is keen to start “playing with a smile on my face” again and “getting back to the old Jesse”, while also firing a dig at Solskjaer for not giving him the chance he deserved at United when football resumed after the coronavirus lockdown.
“At this age, it's all about regular football and showing people what you can do,” he told BT Sport.
“First and foremost I'm here to play, win and help the team, so hopefully I can do that and we'll see where we're at come the end of the season. But it's about playing with a smile on my face and enjoying my football and getting back to the old Jesse.
“Football is a lot of ups and downs, people go through different stages and it's not just a straight road to the top. There are a lot of setbacks which most people don't see and a lot of things that go on behind closed doors.
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“During the lockdown I recapped my best moments playing football – the season under Jose [Mourinho] where I scored all of those goals and went to the World Cup and the season when Ole came in and I started well.
“So I started recapping a lot of games to see where I did well, getting that fire in my belly and drive again to go and kick on because it would have been easy for me to fall off and take the easy option out. But a person like me who's been through a lot and knows the game, I can't just give it up like and I'll always go out with a fight.
“I came back one of the strongest and fittest [at United] after the [first] lockdown and I didn't get my chance that I was waiting on but the whole time I was there and not playing I was doing extra training and keeping on top of my fitness for when the time was right.
“So for me it's about working hard and staying dedicated and I went back to basics.”
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