Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Marcus Rashford will start against Dutch side Feyenoord following impressive performances, off the bench, to score the winner against Hull City and the recent 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City. Rashford was sensational operating as a number nine having broken into the first team in February of last season. This season, Mourinho has brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and due to operating with a lone frontman, Rashford’s appearances have been limited so far.
The United boss confirmed that the young England star, who recently scored a hattrick for his country having been dropped to the under-21s, will start on Thursday in the Europa League – with many Reds hoping to see the young forward in the starting line up against Watford on Sunday.
United struggled first half, with Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan disappointing if wide areas, against a rampant Manchester City – however, the introduction of Rashford coincided with a change of shape and a much improved performance from United. Sadly, it wasn’t enough and United suffered their first defeat under Mourinho. The Portuguese was full of praise for Rashford, stating that he can play in a number of positions – but agreed that he is “mainly a number nine”:
“For me the next big game is against Feyenoord and the next game he is going to play. That is the only thing I can say. I trust him completely. I know his future will be absolutely brilliant. He is mainly a number nine – 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 personality at his level is very important and he was showing that last season – he was showing that immediately.”
Mourinho also praised the impact of Rashford following his introduction at half time against City, but also called out the underperforming Mkhitaryan and Lingard – who were both very poor:
“Wide man or we play with both, which we can do perfectly like we did against Hull. 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 did that for us and because we were playing with Ander Herrera behind Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba, I knew that Fellaini and Pogba were going to be in the box all the time so I thought the game was going to be very direct like it was. So I think we read the game really well. The kid gave us what we had needed in the first half.”
United last travelled to Feyenoord back in 1997, when Andy Cole netted a hattrick in a 3-1 win in the Champions League. The game was overshadowed by a horrendous tackle by Paul Bosvelt on Denis Irwin, which resulted in the United left back missing six weeks through injury.