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Rashford takes swipe at Mourinho’s rigid tactics at United



Marcus Rashford believes Jose Mourinho’s tactics prevented him from playing his best football at Manchester United under him as forwards were given no freedom to swap positions..

The 23-year-old was in conversation with Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand for BT Sport when the questioned was posed to Rashford as to whether he felt Mourinho afforded players to play free-flowing football.

‘I think that’s when we play our best football (when we can be flexible),’ Rashford said.

‘Under Jose (Mourinho) I would say everything was a bit (points) “you play there, you play there, you play there”. And yeah, you can do a job, but it was difficult for me to play my best football.’

In Mourinho’s time in charge – two and a half seasons – Rashford managed 28 goals for United. Since Mourinho departed Rashford has bagged 42 goals across a similar time period.

Rooney, who found his minutes at United reduced after Rashford’s emergence, remembered one game in 2017 in which Mourinho’s defensive approach left the young striker with lots to do.

‘I remember a Chelsea game, I was on the bench. Marcus kept me out the team!’ Rooney said.

‘I remember he (Jose) played a back SIX. And I remember thinking, “Jose’s put Marcus up top on his own. Unless he runs in behind, Chelsea and David Luiz with all that experience. If he comes to feet we’re in trouble.”‘

Rashford scored the opener in that game, a 2-0 win, but there was a growing sense that Mourinho’s focus on defensive solidity detracted from free-flowing attacking football.

Part of Rooney’s success at United, as he went on to be the club’s all-time top scorer, was that he played in Sir Alex Ferguson teams that were fluid from a positional sense in attack..

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‘If I was struggling or a bit isolated in the game, whether that’s out wide or a striker, No 10 position, I would occupy a different position, which would cause the opposition problems,’ Rooney added.

‘We had good rotation, we had (Carlos) Tevez, Louis Saha, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Ji Sung-Park – great players (and) we interchanged positions a lot. We caused the teams problems as we had that freedom.’

Mourinho took charge of United in May 2016 and led them to League Cup and Europa League titles.

But he was axed in December 2018 with United sixth, then 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool.

It was reported at the time that players were unhappy behind the scenes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who replaced Mourinho, has since been able to rebuild United as they sit second this season and prepare for the Europa League final.