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Lingard feels pressure ease as Manchester United find freedom

Reuters , Thursday 4 Feb 2016
Jesse Lingard
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini acknowledge their fans after their team was eliminated from the Champions League Dec. 8, 2015. (AP )
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Manchester United 3-0 Premier League win over Stoke City on Tuesday proves that manager Louis van Gaal's men have rediscovered their freedom, winger Jesse Lingard has said.

United's victory was their second three-goal performance in a row after defeating Derby County 3-1 in the FA Cup on Friday.

Lingard, who scored the opener against Stoke, also said the win had eased the pressure on the team, who have faced criticism following a series of tepid displays this season.

Van Gaal was jeered off by supporters after a 1-0 defeat by Southampton in United's previous home outing, but responded by making a tactical switch that helped the team display more of their traditional fluid attacking style.

"Now we are playing with that freedom and we've got a lot of energy in the team and to be mixing up the positions and entertain the crowd we'll have to do that," Lingard told British media.

"It's a weight off our shoulders and we can just play football now."

The 23-year-old absolved Van Gaal of any blame for the poor results that have seen United drop out of the Champions League places.

The Red Devils are fifth in the league and five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and while Lingard admitted it was tough to hear the fans booing their team, he insisted it was important not to let the crowd influence their style.

"With the results, it's not the manager's fault, we've been on the pitch playing," he said.

"We are on the pitch. We have to play the game as we see it at the time. It's hard, but we have to concentrate on the game. We can't let the fans influence how we play."

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