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Marcus Rashford says he is mature enough now to no longer need Jose Mourinho’s re-assurance when he does not start games for Manchester United.
The 20-year-old striker may not like it but he accepts that he has to convince his hard-to-please manager he is worthy of a place with his work on the training ground and by making an impact when he gets an opportunity in the team.
After his stunning double against Liverpool in his first Premier League start since Boxing Day and in front of hugely-encouraged England manager Gareth Southgate, it will be hard for Mourinho to leave him out now, despite the glittering array of attacking talent at his disposal.
But do not bet on it. Rashford was denied the chance of a possible hat-trick by Mourinho, who true to his pragmatic philosophy, took account of his first half booking and sent on Marouane Fellaini – a player who could break up Liverpool’s flow – by “making a foul” with 20 minutes left.
It was not popular with the fans but Fellaini played a big part in helping United survive Liverpool’s late pressure and clinch a vital victory in the chase to be best of the rest.
Mourinho loves Rashford’s down-to-earth attitude and rates him highly as a huge player for United’s future. But he also clearly believes in the ‘tough love’ approach towards a youngster who admits he still has much to learn.
Asked if Mourinho had spoken to him to explain why he does not always start him, Rashford replied: “He doesn’t have to. When you are younger than I am and you are learning the game I think you do need it.
“But my experiences from the past mean I understand that’s part of the game. There are only 11 players that can start – it’s just one of the those things.
“It is something you have been through before. If it happens again you will probably deal with it better than the first time it happened to you. It is just another experience.
“In football you are going to be up, you’re going to be down. The most important thing is sticking together as a squad. Everyone turns up every day for training, we all work hard, we all do the necessary things.
“We are all in it together. Sometimes you are in the team, sometimes you are not in the team.”