Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is not to blame for the team's recent troubles, says winger Jesse Lingard.
Lingard scored 14 minutes into Tuesday's 3-0 league win over Stoke to end United's run of 11 home matches without scoring a first-half goal.
United remain five points adrift of the top four, but the margin of victory gave Van Gaal respite from criticism of his team's dour displays this season.
"It's not the manager's fault - we've been on the pitch," said Lingard.
United, jeered after losing 1-0 to Southampton in their previous home game, outclassed Stoke, with Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney also scoring.
Lingard, 23, described his early goal as "massive" for the team's confidence.
"It's a weight off our shoulders and we can just play football now," he added.
"We are playing with freedom and we've got a lot of energy in the team."