Why Jose Mourinho should start Marcus Rashford in the Manchester derby

There is a genuine case to start Marcus Rashford this weekend in the Manchester derby after his excellent hat-trick for England U21s during the international break. The arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has pushed the teenager down the pecking order at Old Trafford and he is unlikely to get many opportunities in the striking position. Towards the end of last season, Rashford was the first choice striker at the club and many feared that his development would be damaged by the business done over the summer. However, the forward refuses to go away and has given Jose Mourinho a real selection dilemma ahead of the biggest match of the season so far.

The 18-year-old started the Manchester derby back in March, becoming the youngest player to score in the fixture during the Premier League era. It was the winning goal and one that put the Red Devils back in the hunt for Champions League qualification. Although they didn’t manage to finish in the top four, this match was pivotal in the emergence of Rashford, as he showed he could perform in huge matches. He wasn’t fazed by the occasion and immediately looked like he belonged at the very top level.

 

It is expected that the forward line at Old Trafford is likely to change significantly over the season, with the numerous options available to Mourinho. The former Chelsea manager has been reluctant to use teenagers throughout his management career, but Rashford is full of confidence and has carried his form into the new season. The club’s number 19 scored a dramatic late winner in their last Premier League match against Hull and it is becoming harder to justify not selecting him.

His rise to the top of English football has been remarkable as he came out of nowhere, with few youth coaches tipping him as a future first-team player. Manchester United have a famous history of developing players through their youth academy and the fan-base are keen for Rashford to be given more chances in the coming months. At the beginning of the season, Mourinho will have identified the Europa League as the best competition to give the forward further experience. However, the Portuguese manager is a pragmatist and he won’t be afraid to bring the young striker in to face Manchester City if he feels it is the best option for the club.

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This weekend, Mourinho knows exactly how Manchester City are going to play and he may be forced into playing counter-attacking football, as this will give his side the best chance of winning. It is an impossible task to try and outplay a Pep Guardiola side, as he makes sure that his side rarely lose possession of the football. The Manchester United manager has shown in the past that he focuses on the result first and foremost, which opens the possibility for attacking changes this weekend.

The Red Devils’ best chance of victory this weekend could be to break quickly and be clinical when chances come their way. They will require pace, which is why Rashford is in contention to start tomorrow lunch-time at Old Trafford. He is quick and excellent at running with the ball into open spaces, which makes him perfect to play on the break. The 18-year-old striker can play on the wing and he could be a good option to start on the right wing, replacing Juan Mata. The Spaniard has played well, but he lacks pace and won’t be effective on the counter-attack.

Despite his tender age, Rashford is in great form and has already showed that he can impact the Manchester derby. There are plenty of options in the Manchester United squad, but it could be the right time to bring the teenager into the starting eleven. He is tailor made for the counter-attack and offers a lot more than Juan Mata on the right wing. It would be a huge call, but one with the potential for huge rewards.

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