Mourinho to unleash Rashford

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring against Hull City on Aug 27, 2016.
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring against Hull City on Aug 27, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Marcus Rashford will make his first club start of the season at Feyenoord in the Europa League on Thursday - after giving another glimpse of what the Manchester United manager described as the 18-year-old's "brilliant future" in the second half of Saturday's loss to Manchester City at Old Trafford.

"For me the next big game is against Feyenoord and the next game (Rashford) is going to play. That is the only thing I can say," Mourinho said, coming close to admitting he may have erred with his starting line-up in the 2-1 derby defeat by City.

"I trust him completely. I know his future will be absolutely brilliant. He is mainly a No. 9 - 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."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the other main striker, has been prolific but a little stodgy in his movement and Mourinho suggested he may even choose to play both strikers through the centre in future.

"Wide man or we play with both, which we can do perfectly like we did against Hull.

  • 9

  • How Jose Mourinho sees Marcus Rashford: ”He is mainly a No. 9 – 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.”

"I felt City had the fragility on the sides and the kid could give us in the second half on the sides what we didn't get with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard in the first half."

Rashford's rise may signal Anthony Martial's spot is under threat.

Signed for £59 million (S$106.6 million) last September, the Frenchman was United's star player last season.

But already he seems out of sorts, out of the team and could be the latest to fall victim to Mourinho's management.

The defeat by City exemplified Mourinho's issue with wingers. He wants them to be runners, thinking as much - if not more - about tracking their opposing full-back as attacking. If they have a decent crossing ability then that helps.

Essentially he wants them to be like Willian, his go-to man at Chelsea. Martial does not fit that mould and therefore did not start, but Lingard and Mkhitaryan failed to perform and were substituted at half-time.

Martial came on for the final 10 minutes while Juan Mata, the other potential wide man, stayed on the bench.

Lingard may yet be the man who best fits the "Willian" model.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2016, with the headline 'Mourinho to unleash Rashford'. Print Edition | Subscribe