Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho confirms Rashford will be his main striker against Feyenoord

By Mark Ogden

Jose Mourinho has paved the way for Marcus Rashford to claim a regular place in his Manchester United team by insisting 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 18 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 Under-21s against Norway - Rashford scored a hat-trick in that game - earlier this month.

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, we need to improve him.

"But his big personality is there.

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

Having seen a selection gamble of handing 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 when he entered the fray.

"Against City, I felt they had the fragility on the sides and the kid (Rashford) could give us in the second half on the sides 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 was playing for Villarreal who never played in a derby of this dimension, but was our best player, was the player of the month, and produced a fantastic performance.

"He coped with many situations.

"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.

"For example, 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. He was phenomenal in his attitude."

And Mourinho has warned his under-performing players that their places are under threat.

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

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph