Jesse Lingard has credited England manager Gareth Southgate with overseeing a “revolution” that has brought a feel-good factor back to the national side.
England face Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup in Moscow on Tuesday, aiming to win their first knockout game at a major competition since 2006.
Set up in Southgate’s bold 3-1-4-2 formation, the Three Lions scored eight goals over the course of group wins against Tunisia and Panama before a heavily rotated line-up were beaten 1-0 by Belgium.
Lingard’s superb long-range strike in the 6-1 thumping of Panama is the pick of England’s goals in Russia so far and the 25-year-old Manchester United midfield’s all-action approach makes him a vital cog in clearly defined playing style.
“It feels like a new revolution. The manager has come in with great ideas and a great idea of how he wants us to play,” he told a news conference at England’s Repino base.
“The formation suits us perfectly and as a group of lads, it’s a youthful squad but we’ve still got them experienced players in there and the team spirit is amazing at the moment – everyone has come together and really bonding.
“We’re excited, we’re enjoying the World Cup and we have just got to keep going now.”
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) July 1, 2018
Lingard’s status as a seemingly locked-in starter in England’s best XI might have seemed far fetched as recently as a year ago.
However, his development under Jose Mourinho stands as one of the success stories of the Portuguese’s reign at Old Trafford and Lingard is grateful to his club manager.
“He’s been great with me,” he said. “He’s put that trust and faith in me to play me in big matches and week in, week out.
“It was only up to me then to repay that faith by playing well and putting in performances.
“He’s played a massive part in my development and I can only thank him for that.”
England are undertaking penalty practice in training, with the possibility of having to improve upon a dismal record of six defeats in seven tournament shoot-outs now on the horizon.
Asked whether a preferred list of five penalty takers had been put together, Lingard replied: “Not at this current moment. Of course, we are practicing after training.
“There’s not really a set five yet. Everyone is confident enough to be get and take one.”
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