In an exclusive interview with 888sport, former Manchester United defender Paul Parker has voiced his concern that Marcus Rashford may look to leave the club. Despite only signing a bumper new four-year deal in May, following his surprise call-up to England’s Euro 2016 squad, Parker is concerned that Rashford may become disillusioned with life at Old Trafford following the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Paul Parker, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:
“You have to be concerned for the likes of Rashford. There is no way he can play the number ten role at this moment in time so he is competing with Ibrahimovic and United have to be careful he doesn’t become disillusioned and they lose him. Mourinho’s record will tell Rashford that he doesn’t really stand a chance of getting regular football. He believes in continuity and doesn’t make many changes so Rashford won’t get a run in the team apart from maybe the League Cup. Will he get a run of three or four Premier league games? Not unless Ibrahimovic gets injured.”
Parker’s quotes are troubling. Not because he may be right, but because he appears so out of touch with the realities of modern football. His comments suggest that without the signing of Ibrahimovic, Rashford would either be expected to lead the line by himself as an 18-year-old, an impossible task across a 40-50 game season or he would be competing with Wayne Rooney. As Parker already expects Mourinho to make very few changes across the season, wouldn’t we face this same problem anyway, substituting Ibrahimovic for Rooney?
Secondly, and most importantly, Mourinho is aware of Rashford’s talent and has been particularly vocal in his support of the young striker on multiple occasions already this season. The new United manager described Ibrahimovic as a ‘gift’ for Rashford and most are in agreement. For a young forward like Rashford, the opportunity to learn alongside Ibrahimovic every single day should be celebrated, not publicly declared as a hindrance or the ruin of United’s new young star.
United fans needn’t worry. While Rashford hasn’t started a competitive game this season, he was actively involved in pre-season, came off the bench in the Community Shield and was an unused substitute in the win over Bournemouth. On current evidence, he is firmly in Mourinho’s plans. Paul Parker is right on one thing, though, Rashford won’t play as a no.10. Fortunately for the young forward, he is perfectly comfortable playing in wide positions, as he showed at the European Championships and against Leicester at Wembley.
For the first time in a long time, a young English forward is being protected, encouraged and developed carefully, instead of being thrust into the limelight too early, relied upon too heavily and burnt out too quickly. Perhaps Paul Parker should be thanking Jose Mourinho, rather than criticising him.