Tuesday 24 April 2018

Mourinho firm on Martial and Rashford

Mourinho: Taking tough decisions. Photo: PA
Mourinho: Taking tough decisions. Photo: PA

Mike Whalley

Jose Mourinho has declared that his opinion is the only one that counts when it comes to omitting Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford from the starting line-up.

The Manchester United manager has made it clear that he will not be pressured into picking players if he does not feel they should be in his team.

Reports emanating from France have suggested that Martial wants to leave Old Trafford because his opportunities to play have been significantly reduced since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in January.

The forward's place in his country's World Cup squad is uncertain, given that coach Didier Deschamps has significant attacking options now and did not select him for their decisive qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus last autumn.

Martial is understood to be frustrated by the fact he has not featured in any of United's past four league matches, and has not completed 90 minutes in a top-flight match since February 11.

Mourinho has previously responded to similar concerns about Rashford by saying that the England international does not need to be making regular starts at club level in order to secure a place in Gareth Southgate's squad.

The forward has made more United appearances for Mourinho in all competitions than anyone else, but has been given only one Premier League start this year. Mourinho has refused to get drawn into a debate about Martial and Rashford as he prepares his team for tomorrow's Premier League home match against bottom club West Brom, but insisted the final decision on team selection is his.

Asked about Martial's lack of game time, Mourinho said: "If I were you, I would ask why (Romelu) Lukaku plays every match, why (Nemanja) Matic plays every match. You always go to the one (who isn't playing). If you want what I call dry answers, I have dry answers.

"A dry answer is that only 11 can start the match and we have 22 players in the squad."

Adding that he had not selected Rashford for his recent starting line-ups "because I decide that way", Mourinho said: "If I were you, I would go in another direction (with your question). He is the player with more appearances (than anyone else) since I arrived at the club."

"Only 11 can start. The same questions you are asking to me, you should ask to every other manager because everyone has players in the same situation."

Asked if it was difficult keeping his players happy, Mourinho said: "No. It's just football. We cannot have just 11 players in the squad. It would be amazing economically for the football clubs to have only 11 and play with the same 11 - no injuries, suspension, fatigue."

Despite the fact Martial and Rashford have had limited opportunities lately, Mourinho has made clear once again that he has no intention of buying another forward this summer.

He said: "If I have more competition for Lukaku, I have more competition for the other ones you are saying are not happy because they are not playing."

Meanwhile, Aston Villa moved to within two points of the Championship automatic promotion places with a 1-0 win over Leeds. Lewis Grabban's first-half header was enough to give the hosts victory at Villa Park as Leeds fell to their 10th defeat of 2018.

Villa, who at the very least are guaranteed a play-off spot, have played one game more than second-placed Fulham, while Cardiff - a point better off than Steve Bruce's side - have played two games fewer.

Paul Heckingbottom suffered his seventh defeat in 13 games since taking over as Leeds manager, while Villa boss Steve Bruce extended his managerial record of never having been beaten at home by Leeds to eight games.

  • Man United v West Brom, live, tomorrow, Sky Sports, 4.0

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