Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed why Marcus Rashford was given the responsibility of taking set-pieces during last weekend’s win over Chelsea.
The youngster played an important role in the 2-0 victory, leading the line in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and setting the tone with a goal after just eight minutes at Old Trafford.
It was Rashford’s deep free-kick that eventually led to United’s second goal – scored by Ander Herrera early in the second half – and Mourinho explained his choice after the game.
“Marcus is trustable,” the manager said.
“Even for the second goal, his free-kick was really high, impossible to score from a header because it was to what we call the third post – not the first or second post. But he’s always tense, he’s always fast, and you can always trust that [he will make] strong contact with the ball.
“The ball always goes with speed with him. With some other guys, the ball goes in the right spot but slower. Even if you win the duel in the air, it can be really difficult to score, so in this moment Marcus is one of the boys we trust. Because he’s so young, he’s able to keep developing that day after day; he’s always with one of the assistant coaches trying to make it even better.”
Mourinho says that while he was delighted by the performance against Chelsea, he’s trying to keep his players focused on Thursday’s vital Europa League quarter-final second leg against Anderlecht.
“I don’t allow them [to get carried away],” he added. “I want these people to be calm, you know; I don’t like people to be in hell when the moment is bad and I don’t want people to be in paradise when the moment is good. There is no time for that. We played amazingly well, it was a great result and a good feeling for everyone, but now we play a crucial match.
“Maybe the final of the League Cup was bigger, because it was a day to bring a trophy, but this one now is to go to the semi-finals and either keep the dream alive or to finish. The result in the first leg was not phenomenal but it was positive – we are in a positive situation. When the referee starts the game, we are qualified in that moment, and we obviously have 90 minutes to keep that position.
“You know, my history and United’s history – which is much more important than mine – is to be in the Champions League all the time. That’s why United have never won the Europa League, and why I won it in the only year I played in the competition, back in 2002/03.
“We want to be in the Champions League, but since the beginning of the season, I keep saying ‘we are not’. We are in the Europa League – that’s the competition we can win. We’ve played 11 matches already, so let’s see if we can go to the final,” conclude Mourinho.