Jose Mourinho held the reigns at Manchester United from 2016 to 2019, before current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stepped in. And Marcus Rashford found playing under Mourinho difficult, by his own admission.
The Red Devils striker says the Portuguese’s pragmatic style of play prevented him from creatively expressing himself in the attack.
As criticisms then said he lacked cutting edge in front of goal, Rashford now reveals that under Mourinho he couldn’t confidently play in the final third.
Rashford nearly a debutant when Mourinho assumed charge. He had started with the senior football team in 2016 only, when Louis van Gaal was manager at Old Trafford.
Mourinho replaced him early into Rashford’s first-team career, only to himself be dismissed midway through his third season as manager.
BT Sport quizzed Rashford on whether Mourinho allowed his players to express themselves freely going forward.
And based on his own words, Rashford found playing under Mourinho difficult: “I think that’s when we play our best football (when we can be flexible).”
“Under Jose I would say everything was a bit (points) ‘you play there, you play there, you play there’,” he continued.
“And yeah, you can do a job, but it was difficult for me to play my best football.”
The Stats – Then and Now
Rashford won three trophies with United during his time playing under Mourinho, including the Europa League and Carabao Cup.
However, he scored just 15 times in 81 Premier League outings in Mourinho’s time at United.
Though Mourinho handed the England international a prominent role in his set-up after moving into the dugout, it was difficult.
Rashford remained weak in the final third on a consistent basis during the Portuguese’s two-and-a-half-year reign.
Now, he puts this down to Mourinho’s practical approach stifling players’ more creative instincts.
Then, along came Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in March 2019 as the new United head coach.
Under him, Rashford gained more confidence and scored more and more goals.
Forget about 15 goals across three campaigns, the 23-year-old has now scored 20 goals per season twice, consecutively.
Rashford hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career last season, and has done so again. He’s delivered his second 20-goal minimum in 2020-21, after 53 appearances in all competitions.
Moreover, Rashford also has 15 assists to his name this season alone.