Former Liverpool midfielder and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp has claimed Jose Mourinho’s mind games with Marcus Rashford could lead to the teenager becoming frustrated at Manchester United.
Supporters were left frustrated at Mourinho’s decision to leave Rashford – an effervescent force against Hull City and Norway whilst playing for England’s Under 21s – out of the starting XI against Manchester City, using Jesse Lingard instead.
The 53-year-old insisted Rashford will receive his long overdue chance to start in Man United’s opening Europa League game against Feyenoord on Thursday.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Redknapp, speaking from personal experience, outlined the importance of using the 18-year-old on a regular basis.
“He will say all the right things and tell him the game will be about the substitutes,” he said.
“He’ll play lots of little mind games with him to make him think he’s involved and keep him from getting frustrated.
“I remember being a young player myself and thinking I should be playing. That’s where you need a good manager to explain the situation to you.
“Mourinho’s job is to make sure this kid doesn’t get disillusioned and handle the situation carefully. He knows he’s got a genuine talent there.
“There comes a time when Mourinho won’t be able to ignore the talent that’s coming through.
“Europa League and cup games may keep him going for a while, but won’t satisfy this kid for long.”
Rashford’s importance to this United side is unquestionable, and widespread demand for his inclusion in the starting XI stems from the striker’s embodiment of everything supporters value: young, devastatingly fast, composed on the ball and truly fearless. A genuine blessing.
That said, Mourinho has withheld Rashford for good reason: at the age of 18, constant game time can prove to be detrimental. A case in point is Michael Owen – a player who, just like Rashford, was irresistible at a young age, and received regular game-time as a result. A sensible idea at the time, sure, but a string of nasty injuries further down the line highlighted the importance of using young talents in moderation.
It may be frustrating for United fans, who yearn to see Rashford decimating defenders on a weekly basis, but the 18-year-old’s sporadic involvement now will be beneficial in the long-term.