Friday 20 April 2018

Jose confirms Rashford will get first start in Europa tie

Marcus Rashford Photo: PA
Marcus Rashford Photo: PA

Mark Ogden

Jose Mourinho has paved the way for Marcus Rashford to claim a regular place in his Manchester United team by revealing that the teenager will start Thursday's Europa League clash against Feyenoord after proving his mental strength during the 2-1 derby defeat against Manchester City.

Rashford, 18, has yet to start a game for United under Mourinho, having made eighteen starts under Louis van Gaal during the final three months of last season.

The youngster has also lost his place in the full England squad, dropping down to the U21 squad against Norway and duly scored a rapid hat-trick.

But with the Manchester-born forward making a difference during the second-half of the defeat against City, Mourinho admits he can no longer hold him back.

"For me, the next big game is against Feyenoord and the next game he (Rashford) is going to play," Mourinho said. "That is the only thing I can say.

"I trust him completely. I know his future will be absolutely brilliant.

"He is mainly a No 9, but if you want to play him in different positions, we need to work him and improve him. But his big personality is there.

"Normally, people look to the football talent, but the personality at this level is very important and he was showing that last season immediately ."

Having seen a selection gamble of giving Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan their first starts of the season backfire in the first-half against City, Mourinho admitted he was surprised by the mental fragility of some of his players.


But he claims that Rashford exposed his more senior team-mates by refusing to be cowed by the occasion.

"Against City, I felt they had the fragility on the sides and the kid (Rashford) could give us in the second half what we didn't get with Miki and Jesse in the first half," Mourinho said.

"The kid gave us what we had needed and normally we would be here now speaking about a different result.

"Let's speak for example about Mkhitaryan - how many big matches has he played? The kid Jesse - how many times has he played big matches?

"But then we can speak about Eric Bailly, who never played in a derby of this dimension at Villarreal, but was our best player and produced a fantastic performance.

"So you never know the way players are going to react, especially when you don't know them so well. And after only a couple of months it is too early to know them really well.

"Ander Herrera he came on for the second half and he was the one who allowed us to recover the ball fast, to press higher, to bring the team higher to recover the ball, to build a new wave of attack. He was phenomenal in his attitude."

With Feyenoord next up in Rotterdam on Thursday and a trip to Watford next Sunday, Mourinho has warned his under-performing players that their places are under threat.

"The performances are the deciding factor," he said.

"Performances are the only way that I can decide. So if you are asking me are they going to play against Feyenoord then no.

"And it is not to punish them, it is just to decide in relation to what I have - and what do I have? Their performances.

"So of course I am going to play other players."

Independent News Service

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