Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho launched an impassioned defence of his use of Marcus Rashford as he hit back at the “compulsive liars” who have accused him of squandering the England striker’s talent.
Reading from a set of prepared notes in an echo of Rafael Benitez’s “facts” rant as Liverpool manager in 2009, Mourinho reeled off a series of statistics detailing Rashford’s game time over the past two seasons.
After watching Rashford score in England’s 1-0 victory over Switzerland on Wednesday, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, suggested the striker may have to leave United to get a regular run in his preferred centre-forward role.
It triggered an extraordinary reaction from Mourinho at his press conference yesterday to preview tonight’s game at Watford, when Rashford will begin a three-game ban for his red card against Burnley. Having told the critics, whom he claims are obsessed with him, to stop spreading “compulsive lies”, Mourinho asked for a moment’s patience as he consulted a set of notes before delivering a methodical breakdown of Rashford’s appearances and minutes under him.
“I’m going to do something, not for you but for the United fans, because I think I hold myself to the United fans and, for them, I am going to spend two minutes with you,” he began. “On the season 16-17, Marcus Rashford played 32 Premier League matches, 11 Europa League matches, including the final, three FA Cup matches, six League Cup matches, including the final, and the Community Shield. He had 53 appearances he played 3,068 [minutes]and if you want to divide that by 90 minutes, he played 34.2 matches of 90 minutes in 16-17.
“In 17-18, he played 35 Premier League matches, eight in the Champions League, five in the FA Cup, including the final, three League Cup matches and the European Super Cup final. He played a total of 52 matches with 2,676 minutes. If you divide that by 90, it gives 29.7 matches. So, with me, in two seasons, he had 105 appearances, 5,744 minutes, 63.7 matches of 90 minutes, including five finals, so the people speaking about these minutes, I think they are a bit confused.”
Mourinho’s research included two small errors: Rashford played the equivalent of 34.1 90-minute matches in 2016-17 for an average of 63.8 full games – and it overlooked how the player has had a longer wait between starts since Alexis Sanchez’s arrival from Arsenal in January. Up until the Chilean’s arrival, Rashford was starting the equivalent of every 1.8 games, whereas that has increased to every 2.5 matches since.
Mourinho said the criticism of his use of Rashford was such that he would probably be condemned for not playing him against Watford, even though he is suspended following his sending off against Burnley in United’s last game.
“I think I can expect that Sunday I’m going to be highly criticised for not playing him because some of the boys are obsessed with me and some of them have, I think, a problem with some compulsive lies,” he said.
“So I can expect that Sunday, some of them, they will wake up and the first thing they think is Jose Mourinho, so I can imagine I am going to be criticised for not playing Marcus but it is not my fault, he’s suspended.
“Some of the persons, everybody knows they have double salaries, they work also for the clubs and when they work also for the clubs they are not independent and they conduct things in the direction they want, that’s obvious. That’s human, that’s natural, it’s not ethical but I accept. Since I was here, he [Rashford] was never one day out of selection because of my decision, only if he was injured or suspended. “That is why I am going so specific about these numbers.” (© Daily Telegraph, London)