Jesse Lingard says Manchester United are playing with much more freedom after being given license to express themselves by manager Louis van Gaal.
United recorded back-to-back wins for only the second time in three months on Tuesday evening as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Stoke City at Old Trafford.
The vibrant football was in complete contrast to the ponderous style that has become synonymous with United this season and ensured they did not lose any more ground on the top four – they remain five points adrift of fourth place which is now occupied by Arsenal.
And after scoring six goals in their last two games, Lingard says United are in a position to entertain the fans once more.
“Now we are playing with that freedom and we’ve got a lot of energy in the team,” said Lingard, who joined the club aged seven.
“To be mixing up the positions and entertain the crowd, we’ll have to do that, but it’s that freedom that we have, it’s a weight off our shoulders and we can just play football now.”
Still, failure to bridge the gap to the top four and secure Champions League football for next season would represent a hugely disappointing season for United and Lingard admits their difficult campaign has been down to the players, not Van Gaal.
“With the results, it’s not the manager’s fault,” said the United midfielder, who put the hosts one up against the Potters with his third goal for the club.
“We are the ones who have been on the pitch playing. On Tuesday, you’ve seen that we can get results we need if we put our mind to it.”
Lingard says it is important the players do not let frustrations from the fans affect them on the pitch.
“It’s hard, but we have to concentrate on the game,” said Lingard when reminded of supporter unrest during the 1-0 defeat to Southampton 11 days ago.
“We can’t let the fans influence how we play. We are on the pitch. We have to play the game as we see it at the time.
“We showed great character to do that in the last game and were unfortunate not to get the result against Southampton but we bounced back against Derby and against Stoke.”