Teenage prodigy Marcus Rashford isn’t as prominent a figure at Old Trafford as he was last season, but manager Jose Mourinho has emphasized that his importance to the team hasn’t diminished
Rashford is no longer a guaranteed starter for Manchester United, which may be a tad sensible considering he’s only 19 years old. The teenager was their undisputed number one last season, but has been displaced by Swede icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
There have been rumours that Manchester United want to bring in another striker, with France and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann being touted as a priority target.
However, Mourinho has come out emphatically in support of Rashford. He has clearly stated that he is not looking to sign a striker and trusts Rashford to deliver when called upon.
“The biggest trust I give him is when I told you that I don’t want another striker. I don’t want one. Why? Because I have Rashford,” said the Portuguese manager, according to the Daily Mail.
“He’s always there. He’s always selected, he’s on the team, he’s on the bench when he doesn’t start. He comes on and he has different kinds of experiences.
“What happened to him last season was really fast and was a consequence of a situation that we are not having this season.”
The precocious Rashford was a revelation for Manchester United last season, a spark of attacking brilliance in an otherwise plain United side under the Iron Tulip, Louis van Gaal.
The teenager made his debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League round-of-32 in February 2016, scoring twice. He then scored a brace in his Premier League debut as well, helping United conquer Arsenal at Old Trafford.
Rashford was subsequently an automatic selection up front, ending the season with five goals and two assists in 11 Premier League starts.
However, that status has been reserved for Zlatan this season. Rashford has just eight starts so far this season, and has often been shuttled into a winger’s role instead of his preferred central striker position.
Mourinho has addressed this conundrum before, describing Zlatan as a ‘gift for Rashford’ who would help the starlet develop. His recent comments will also help boost the morale of the young striker, who no longer has to be thrown in the deep end at every turn.
One thing to keep in mind for Mourinho though is positioning, with Rashford not looking particularly effective on the wings. The Portuguese coach would not like to stunt the teenager’s growth by playing him out of position.