José Mourinho pulls out stats sheet to defend use of Marcus Rashford

Jamie Jackson on 14 September 2018

José Mourinho has defended his use of Marcus Rashford, with Manchester United’s manager reading from a prepared sheet of statistics regarding the forward’s appearances since he took over in 2016.

On a day when Mourinho said he was “in the dark” over Paul Pogba’s future but that he believed the midfielder wanted to stay, his extraordinary performance over Rashford dominated the narrative.

After Rashford’s two goals in two games for England it was suggested by some pundits that the 20-year-old may have to leave United to further his development. Rashford is unavailable at Watford on Saturday because he starts a three-game ban.

Mourinho joked about this when defending his deployment of the player. “I think I can expect that Sunday I’m going to be highly criticised for not playing him,” he said. “Because some of the [media] boys are really obsessed with me. Some of them, they have a problem with some compulsive lies, so I can expect that Sunday some of them they will wake up in the morning and as always the first thing they think is José Mourinho.”

Shortly after he read from the sheet. “On the season 16-17 Marcus Rashford played 32 Premier League matches, 11 Europa League matches, including the final, three FA Cup matches, six League Cup matches including the final and the Community Shield. He had 53 appearances but if you want to take to the minutes of play, he played 3,068 and if you want to divide that by 90 minutes of the matches, he played 34.2 matches of 90 minutes.

“In 17-18, he played 35 Premier League matches, eight in Champions League, five in FA Cup including the final, three League Cup matches and the European Super Cup final. He played a total of 52 matches with 2,676 minutes, if you divide that by 90, it gives 29.7 matches, so with me, in two seasons, he had 105 appearances, 5,744 minutes, 63.7 matches of 90 minutes, including five finals, so the people that is speaking about these minutes, I think they are a bit confused.”

Mourinho pointed to young players at Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton as a comparison. “Marcus Rashford is not Dominic Solanke, not Ruben Loftus-Cheek, not Dominic Calvert-Lewin,” he said. “He is Marcus Rashford, Manchester United player, with an incredible number of appearances and an incredible number of minutes played at the highest level in the best possible competitions.”

Pogba’s happiness at United continues to be an issue after the midfielder admitted last week that he did not know what would happen “in the next few months”. Pogba is represented by Mino Raiola, and it was suggested the agent is working in private to pave the way for his client’s departure.

“If I watch Mr Raiola on the screen saying the player wants to leave and that he is organising a way for him to try to leave, then I will believe,” Mourinho said. “At this moment, I am in the dark. The only thing that is clear for me is that the player never – never in all these days we are together – he never told me that he wants to leave.”

Mourinho, asked whether Pogba had told him he wanted to stay, said: “If he doesn’t tell me he wants to leave, it’s because he wants to stay. That’s my conclusion.” When Pogba’s comment about the coming months was raised as an on-record suggestion from the 25-year-old that he could move, Mourinho said: “You have to ask him.”

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