In response to criticism from pundits earlier this week, Manchester United manager José Mourinho has defended the game-time of Marcus Rashford.
Pundit Jamie Carragher suggested that Rashford was not being played enough under Mourinho, and may need to leave his boyhood club in order to fulfill his full potential.
Mourinho came to Friday’s press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Watford equipped with statistics that proved that while Rashford may not start every game for United, he has made over 100 appearances in the last two seasons.
“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.”
3️⃣2️⃣ Premier League matches
1️⃣1️⃣ Europa League matches including the final
3️⃣ FA Cup matches
6️⃣ League Cup matches including the final
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 14, 2018
In a rant reminiscent of former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez’s famous “fact” speech in 2009, Mourinho hit out at “obsessed” pundits who, “wake up in the morning and as always the first thing they think is Jose Mourinho.”
England manager Gareth Southgate compared Marcus Rashford to Cristiano Ronaldo after his goals against Spain and Switzerland during the international break.
Interestingly, Rashford made 32 appearances under Mourinho in his first season for United, which is more than Ronaldo’s 29 appearances at his first season at Old Trafford.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez in January 2018 increased competition for places at United and meant Rashford became a bit-part player.
Mourinho appeared to criticise Rashford after United’s defeat against Brighton in the FA Cup last season. United’s fringe players put in a below-par performance as Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were rested. Mourinho expressed his frustration:
“Why always Lukaku? You have the answer why always Lukaku!”
Rashford is still only 20 years old, and Mourinho’s statistics reveal that he is being played more than any of England’s other young players.
“So the people that is speaking about these minutes, I think they are a bit confused. Marcus Rashford is not Dominic Solanke, not Ruben Loftus-Cheek, not Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
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.”
Mourinho also joked that he will still be criticised for not starting Rashford even though the forward is suspended for Saturday’s game against Watford.
“[I]t is not my fault, he’s suspended, so probably you should remind them that he is suspended and cannot play.”
In the past, Mourinho has not been afraid to hold back in press conferences and has been known to ease the pressure on his players.