Toni Duggan has revealed how Pep Guardiola’s blueprint is driving on the Lionesses at this World Cup.
The England forward, who now plies her trade at Barcelona, believes Phil Neville’s side are benefitting from the work he has done for her former club Manchester City.
And those methods, now being adapted by Neville, is part of the DNA the FA want running through all of its sides.
Duggan said: “I’m very fortunate to have worked at two unbelievable clubs - Manchester City and Barcelona - and I feel like I’ve really changed the way I look at football from being around those environments.
“I feel really privileged.
“We’re doing now with England what Barcelona have been doing for many, many years.
“They’ve been doing it since they were babies. So it’s natural for them and we’re not far behind.
“At Barcelona, there’s talk about Johan Cruyff and Pep followed on from his success. Those two will be spoken about forever.
“What they achieved in the game and the styles and the ways they’ve done it, that’s really important.
“And that’s the way Phil wants us to play – he’s been out in Spain in Valencia as well and probably robbed a few ideas and brought them back to us.
“The girls are so confident now playing out from the back.
“You’ll see it in our play. The girls are really brave and confident of getting on the ball to maybe four or five years ago when it wasn’t in our mindset to do that.”
Duggan’s former team-mate at Manchester City Abbie McManus confirmed that Guardiola’s influence does reach every corner of the Etihad.
This has been replicated with England, who will progress as Group D winners if they avoid defeat against Japan in Nice tomorrow night.
The squad members are not dismissive of former boss Mark Sampson, whose more direct methods resulted in the Lionesses’ marching to the semi-finals four years ago.
But there is a clear change of approach, as seen by McManus’s statistics.
She recorded more completed passes in the first-half of Friday’s 1-0 win over Argentina than all of her opponents managed in total.
She said: “At Manchester City, passing football runs through the club. It’s not something that’s new to me. And it’s something Phil drives every day.
“Going side to side, back, forward – you name it. Manchester City are a ball-playing team, Phil wants a ball-playing team.
“Nick Cushing, our boss at Manchester City, gets to speak to Pep a lot - and Rodolpho. (Borrell, assistant coach)
“In the first couple of years it was massive that we were getting to put the men’s style into the women’s.
“It helped everyone to know that we would play the same way. It was huge for us and hopefully we can do the same with Phil.”
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