Jose Mourinho: Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard will relish World Cup semi-final

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho believes Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard will not feel the pressure as England take on Croatia for a place in the World Cup final against France this evening.

The pair have cemented themselves in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI over this World Cup with energetic, composed performances.

Lingard, for one, has covered more ground than any England player and scored their finest goal of the tournament against Panama, while Ashley Young delivered a stellar display in the 2-0 win over Sweden.

Speaking on RT ahead of the game, Mourinho backed the pair to relish – rather than shirk from – the occasion in Moscow.

“Looking to my boys, I think Lingard is one that enjoys the occasion, I think he’s going to be the happy kid he is every day and that he shows every match,” he said.Ashley Young is very reliable, I think he will not be affected by the occasion.”

There is a level of tactical understanding and wider footballing intelligence needed to operate within this Southgate system, and both Manchester United boys have mastered that without any problems. Lingard especially makes the kind of runs nobody else can.

But that is just the backbone of the team. The hardware, if you like. What really matters – what people end up seeing – is the attitude of these players, and specifically how the handle themselves on these occasions.

Young, as Mourinho notes, is never fazed by anything, seemingly more at home in huge occasions than home games against West Ham United. And Lingard brings a kind of spirit which epitomises this England team: exuberant, modern, fresh, utterly confident, disinterested in the past and always happy to live in the spotlight.

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