In the aftermath of Manchester United’s derby loss, Jose Mourinho gave hints as to who he’ll be starting for United against Feyenoord, as United looks to get an early foot into the knockout stages of the Europa League. Mourinho’s men disappointed him, as he claimed to have done himself, during the derby, and he seems set to do some healthy squad rotation between the match against Feyenoord and United’s clash with Watford at Vicarage Road.
The only thing Mourinho confirmed for sure was that Rashford would be starting against Feyenoord. The teenager, who arguably deserved to start the derby after a string of impressive performances for United and England’s youth side, didn’t, but he looks likely to start against Feyenoord. Mourinho also mentioned comments about him not playing as a number nine, meaning that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will likely also start.
“For me, the next big game is against Feyenoord. He [Rashford] is going to play is the only thing I can say. I trust him completely and I know his future will be absolutely brilliant. He is mainly a no.9 and, if we want him to play in a different position, we need to work on him and improve him but his big personality is there.
“Normally, people look to the football talent but the personality at this level is very, very important and he was showing that last season, he was showing that immediately. He gave us in the second half what we needed but didn’t get from Micki or Jesse in the first half.”
While I do think Rashford deserves to start, I also think it is important for Ibrahimovic to be given a rest. Rashford shouldn’t be playing on the right, and I think Memphis should get a start in an environment suited to his potential successes. In addition, United will probably play with a 4-2-3-1 with Wayne Rooney behind the striker- a terrible fact to consider- so playing Rashford would imply having three players who play in similar areas on the pitch.
After that, Mourinho spoke about the unpredictability of performances from players, using Lingard, Mkhitaryan, and Eric Bailly as examples. He also praised Ander Herrera after a delightful second-half performance in the derby that saw him gain complete control of the game.
“For example, Micki has played in how many big matches? The kid Jesse – how many big matches? We speak about Eric Bailly. At Villarreal, he never had a derby of this dimension but [before the City match] he was our Player of the Month and had fantastic performances for us. He coped with many situations but you never know the way they are going to react, especially when you don’t know them so well. A couple of months is too early to know them really well.
“Ander Herrera came on in the second half and was the one that allowed us to recover the ball fast to press higher, to bring the team higher to build a new wave of attack and put another long ball into the last line. Ander was phenomenal in his attitude.”
Asked about how he selects his sides, Mourinho kept his answer simple, saying that it’s purely based on performances. It will be a crime to see him start the archaic Rooney after saying this, though…
“Well, performances are the deciding factor. How I can decide is by performances, it’s the only way. So if you are asking me if they [the players he was disappointed with on Saturday] are going to play versus Feyenoord, no. Is it to punish? No. Just to decide in relation to what I have and what do I have [to help me decide]? Their performances, of course.”
Mourinho doesn’t seem to be learning from his own mistakes after the derby, which could be a problem. Also concerning is the fact it doesn’t even seem to be he who wants to play 4-2-3-1 with Rooney behind the striker anymore- Sam Allardyce seems to be having similar problems for England. Hopefully, though, Mourinho can find the right balance between winning the match and rotating the squad, the ultimate goals for Thursday.