Rashford gets Jose nod

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrating after scoring his team's winner in the 92nd minute during the 1-0 English Premier League victory over Hull City.
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrating after scoring his team's winner in the 92nd minute during the 1-0 English Premier League victory over Hull City.PHOTO: REUTERS
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrating after scoring his team's winner in the 92nd minute during the 1-0 English Premier League victory over Hull City.
Jose MourinhoPHOTO: REUTERS

Mourinho highlights striker's pace as his edge but not in a rush for him to start games

LONDON • With regulation time over and the match moving into stoppage time, it looked like Manchester United would have to settle for a draw on Saturday.

For, try as much as they did, they could not find a way past an obdurate Hull City defence at the rain-battered KCOM Stadium.

But, just when manager Jose Mourinho was probably thinking how he would explain at the post-match press conference that his perfect start to the English Premier League football season has been besmirched, the win materialised.

On 92 minutes, with every player drenched by the rain, Wayne Rooney - who had been sidelined to the left flank and failed to make an impression during the match - skipped to the Hull byline, evaded a tired challenge from Ahmed Elmohamady and fired a low cross into the six-yard box.

Marcus Rashford, who had been on the field for 21 minutes, charged into the danger zone, ahead of the otherwise faultless Hull captain Curtis Davies, and crashed the ball in past goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic.

A PROMISING FUTURE

Marcus Rashford has a lot of chances waiting for him. When the team was chasing the ball against Leicester in the Community Shield and again tonight, he made a difference for us.

JOSE MOURINHO, Man United manager, on young striker Marcus Rashford.

It felt cruel, on Davies' desire and the spirit Mike Phelan, the temporary manager of Hull, had dragged from his players, but no one from United cared.

The away end exploded in joy. Rashford charged to join the celebrating supporters. People were falling over in the excitement - with United midfielder Marouane Fellaini reportedly rushing to the aid of a female fan who was crushed against the advertising board.

The goal helped United win 1-0 and Mourinho maintain his 100 per cent start to the Premier League campaign.

But, importantly, it again pitchforked Rashford into the limelight.

The 18-year-old's 12th goal at senior level not only reminded Mourinho of the striking qualities his team have at their disposal, but it also reminded the new England manager Sam Allardyce the folly of sending the forward to play for the Under-21s in a Euro 2017 qualifier against Norway on Sept 6.

Rashford had hit eight goals in 18 matches for United last season, having broken into the first team in February, and went on to win a place in England's Euro 2016 squad.

But he had been named as a substitute for all three of United's Premier League matches so far this season and had not come on at all until Saturday's game, with Mourinho preferring new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack.

Allardyce had cited the teenager's lack of competitive game time for his demotion to the England U-21s.

In his pre-match news conference on Friday, Mourinho was quick to state that Rashford will get chances to play across all competitions this season.

The manager was full of praise of for the forward after he gave United three points on Saturday.

"Marcus Rashford has a lot of chances waiting for him," the Portuguese said.

"When the team was chasing the ball against Leicester in the Community Shield and again tonight, he made a difference for us.

"He gives new problems to the opposition so I am really happy with him and the team."

But Mourinho insisted Rashford's intervention will not necessarily compel him to radically alter selection policy - all but declaring that his attack will be built around Ibrahimovic for the foreseeable future.

"I have to analyse. The important thing is that he's working very well. He's 18-years-old," Mourinho said.

"We are starting matches with a second man behind Zlatan, (but) we can start some matches with the player in front of Zlatan, so the kid is going to play a lot of matches for sure."

The manager acknowledged that the English striker offers a different dynamic to his more established colleagues, namely unbridled pace.

"He's different than (Wayne) Rooney, he's different than Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), so everybody is happy with him," Mourinho said.

So, will the United sensation start in United's next Premier League clash - against Manchester City on Sept 10 at Old Trafford?

Mourinho would only say: "I have two weeks before the next match, I have to analyse the opponent and see the way my boys are coming back from the international games."

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Rashford gets Jose nod'. Print Edition | Subscribe