David Moyes has made it abundantly clear when he’ll decide on the Jesse Lingard signing after his blatant West Ham trial.
The duck test is a form of abductive reasoning, usually expressed as “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
And in West Ham’s case that can be applied to the scenario surrounding Jesse Lingard right now.
Lingard is now a free agent after being released by Forest, who he joined ahead of West Ham last summer.
The midfielder shone during that unforgettable six-month loan spell at the London Stadium where he helped fire West Ham to within one win of Champions League qualification and their record Premier League points total.
Reports initially claimed Lingard was being permitted to train with the Hammers as a “gesture of goodwill in a bid to keep his fitness up”.
Pull the other one.
It wasn’t long before “new information” – otherwise known as “the truth” emerged that West Ham were actively “assessing” whether to sign Lingard as a free agent.
We suggested here on Hammers News that the club were testing fan reaction with the training “favour” before making a decision whether to re-sign the now 30-year-old Lingard.
It’s a well-used trick in the modern game. And West Ham fans were not born yesterday.
This was – from the very outset – always a trial, whether anyone at West Ham publicly admits it or not. There is of course a stigma around that word in professional football – especially at the top end of the game where it is increasingly rare. And it is not a good look for a player to be labelled a “trialist”.
But you don’t have an England international – who was being touted for £25m in the last year of his contract at Man United and who has been incessantly linked with a move to your club – training with you without there being a potential contract at the end of it.
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
And Moyes has made it abundantly clear when he’ll decide on the Lingard signing after his blatant West Ham trial.
Moyes is famous for playing his cards close to his chest over everything from team news and injuries to transfers. So he was hardly going to start revealing all when asked about Lingard in his latest press conference.
The Scot’s comments have since been reported as a “denial” that he is considering re-signing Lingard after a board confidant claimed he is now ‘almost certain’ to join on a short-term deal.
But if you believe Moyes on that, you’ll believe anything.
And reading between the lines Moyes has made it pretty clear how much longer this unofficial trial will last and therefore when a decision will be made on giving Lingard a deal at West Ham.
Not least with the use of the ‘we’. If it’s a favour to Lingard then why would ‘we’ at West Ham care about getting him in top condition…
Moyes may not end up signing him when he makes his decision next week – but this was always a trial.
“We’ve not even considered a deal at the moment,” Moyes said in his presser, fooling absolutely nobody.
“He’s in training to see if we can get him back fit and get him in decent condition. He’ll be back here next week as well. There’s no news on that as far as short-term deals or anything else.
“Jesse’s a good player, probably needing to get himself in the correct condition. We’re working on him. All players tend to need four or five weeks pre-season and Jesse’s no different from anybody else.”
So there you have it in black and white. Lingard’s trial period lasts until the end of next week at which point Moyes and West Ham will make a decision whether to offer him a deal to return to the club where he reinvigorated his career.