Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has explained why he gambled with the selection of Marcus Rashford against Liverpool yesterday.
The Portuguese’s decision certainly paid off as Rashford put in a superb performance on the left-hand side, scoring twice in the first half to help seal an important 2-1 win over their rivals.
Rashford has not been as much of a regular for United recently, but Mourinho says he needed the England international’s pace in this game, particularly with Anthony Martial absent through injury.
Playing Rashford out wide also allowed Mourinho to shift Alexis Sanchez more centrally, and it seems this tactical tweak worked wonders in a convincing display against Jurgen Klopp’s side in this battle for second place.
United opened up a five-point gap over the Reds with their victory at Old Trafford yesterday, and Mourinho was full of praise for Rashford for his role in picking up this crucial three points.
‘Today, he probably came in unexpected but we trusted him,’ Mourinho is quoted on Man Utd’s official site.
‘We felt the game could be adapted to his qualities. It was because he was impressing a lot in training and, sometimes, that’s the point. The media and the fans, in relation to the options, you are not on the training ground. You do not see what is going on and how well the players are training, how badly they are training.
‘His self confidence, mood and the feeling with him was he was really improving a lot in the past few weeks. Against Palace, we were losing so I played him immediately at half-time.
‘The feelings were positive today, to bring Alexis to that (central) position so he could be a good link with (Romelu) Lukaku and also a way to stop (Emre) Can or (Jordan) Henderson, whoever was their no.6 choice, a little bit.
‘I thought Marcus’ speed would be important. Also, with Anthony Martial injured, it was not even a doubt between one or another. It was a straight choice.’
The 20-year-old has long been considered one of the most exciting prospects at United and he staked his claim yesterday with this reminder of what he can do despite so many big names and big-money signings being ahead of him in the pecking order for much of this season.