Jose Mourinho has explained why Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have struggled at Manchester United this season, claiming youngsters find it harder in their second seasons after impressive breakthrough campaigns.
Rashford has struggled to replicate his stunning performances so far this term and although he has been played out wide under Mourinho, he’s lacked the same attacking threat supports loved him for.
While Fosu-Mensah became one of Louis van Gaal‘s preferred choices at right-back in the closing stages of last season, he has only played one minute in the Premier League under the Portuguese boss.
Speaking about the situation, Mourinho believes a combinations of fewer injuries, higher expectations and opponents being wiser to their ability, has limited their chances in the first-team.
Asked if there were young players at the club who had excited him, he said: “Excite me, yes. Ready? No. Last season, some of the boys were waiting. Some of them with great talent. Rashford is head of that talent. They were in a period where they had to play. They had no pressure at all. Nobody expected anything from them. There were no senior players on the bench waiting for them to make a mistake, just them. The choice was Rashford or Rashford. Mensah or Mensah.
“There were no other options, the injuries were so many. The situation is different this season. The number of injuries is smaller, the expectations about the players are higher. I investigated the history of some young players at the club. One is one of the greatest players this club has ever had – Ryan Giggs. His second season was not comparable with the season when he started.
“Then, in the third season, he reached the level of Giggs. It was the final explosion of Giggs. That happens with many youth players. They are free when they first come, free of responsibilities and to express themselves. Opponents don’t know them, they’re caught by surprise. That changes in the second season, but we train many times with the young players here.
“In international weeks meand Nicky Butt, and before Nicky with Warren Joyce, we have the young players together and interacting. It helps accelerate their process. So, yes, we want to play young players but sometimes in football it’s about the moment. So yes, the people here are aware of the history and tradition of young players at the club.”
It’s clear that Mourinho has faith in his youngsters, but he hasn’t had the chance to give them a run of games, especially after our mixed start to the season.
Hopes are they can get more involved moving forward, not just because we pick up injuries, but because they have actually earned the opportunity to showcase their talents on the main stage.