Marcus Rashford said on Thursday that former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had helped him become a more “practicality” striker in terms of winning penalties.
Rashford, during an interview after he received the Football Writers’ Association 2021 Tribute Award on Thursday, said the reason why United were getting plenty of penalties was down to their attack-minded approach rather than some sort of unfairness on the part of match officials.
Following Premier League champions Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat by Southampton earlier this month, a match where striker Sadio Mane was denied a spot-kick, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said United had been given “more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half years” in charge at Anfield.
“As a forward line, we want to go and score goals,” Rashford said.
“When you are making runs in behind or you are dribbling with the ball and if you see a challenge coming, you don’t want to get tackled because you are looking at an opportunity to score a goal.
Rashford said, “There is no way you are going to let somebody take the ball off you, so for me, it is just a case of us wanting to score goals and the teams wanting to defend goals – and you know, penalties can happen.”
The England international added a conversation with Mourinho, now in charge of top-flight rivals Tottenham Hotspur, had helped change his approach.
“But there have been times when we have probably not got penalties,” Rashford recalled.
“I remember when Jose was manager, there were five or six times I can remember where I should have had a penalty.
“Jose ended up saying to me: ‘If you are not practical about the way you do it, then you are not going to (get) give(n) it.’ After that, we started to get a few penalties.
‘NO BIGGER GAME’
United are currently top of the Premier League, three points clear of Liverpool ahead of the bitter rivals’ Anfield clash on Sunday.
They were last crowned champions of England under outgoing manager Alex Ferguson in the 2012-13 season.
But even though it has been nearly four years since Liverpool lost a league game at home – in April 2017 against Crystal Palace – while United have won just one of their last 10 matches against the Merseysiders, Rashford is relishing the task ahead of him.
“Liverpool and (Manchester) City, there are no better games,” said the 23-year-old forward, who has scored 14 goals in 28 games in all competitions this season.
Rashford said, “As a kid from Manchester that supports United, there are no bigger games to score goals in. It is definitely a game I am looking forward to, like the rest of the squad.”