Marcus Rashford: Man Utd forward says 'tough period' under Jose Mourinho made him stronger

Rashford: "When I look back at it, it was a tough period but definitely a period that made me a better player"

Marcus Rashford scored twice as Manchester United beat Liverpool in March 2018
Image: Marcus Rashford says he endured a 'tough period' under former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford says he endured a “tough period” under former manager Jose Mourinho, but insists it made him a "better player".

Mourinho was in charge of United from the summer of 2016 until December 2018, winning the Europa League and the League Cup in his first season at Old Trafford.

Rashford registered 28 goals and 20 assists under Mourinho but struggled to find his best form consistently, often being deployed out wide while Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Romelu Lukaku played through the middle.

Marcus Rashford wheels away in celebration after making it 3-1
Image: Rashford has scored 19 goals for United in all competitions this season

The 22-year-old has since flourished under current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - scoring a career-best 19 goals in all competitions this season - but says he owes a lot to the Norwegian's predecessor.

"It was tough but I think when you look back on it in five or six years, they're the moments that give you that mental toughness," Rashford told the UTD Podcast.

"As an all-round player I've improved a lot and a lot of it is down to those two years under Jose.

"We had ups and downs. When I look back at it, it was a tough period but definitely a period that made me a better player."

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'Ibrahimovic key to my development'

Rashford also revealed in the podcast how Ibrahimovic - one of Mourinho's first United signings - helped him become the player he is today.

The former Sweden striker scored 29 goals in 53 games for the club before leaving in March 2018 following a period when appearances were limited due to his recovery from an ACL injury.

"His mentality was beyond anything I'd ever played with before," Rashford added. "He didn't care what anyone would say to him or what anyone was saying about him.

"In terms of his mentality he was key to my development, especially when Jose was there because he was someone who had played under him before and he knew you had to be a certain type of way to survive under him."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford celebrate Rashford's goal, Sunderland v Manchester United, Premier League, Sunday 9 April 2017
Image: Rashford says Zlatan Ibrahimovic was also key to his development

Rashford on return from injury

Rashford has been out since mid-January with a back injury, which meant featuring for United again this season and representing England at Euro 2020 was up in the air.

But the coronavirus suspension will give him time to recover - and means he will not have to go into the European Championship short of full fitness.

"Yeah, for me I was probably going to go back with the team in the middle or end of April, but that would have been a push because obviously I didn't want to miss the summer," Rashford said.

"I doubt I would have been 100 per cent fit going into that tournament or even finishing off the season, but that's what we were aiming for and obviously since then a lot has happened with this virus.

"So, for my body, really, it's been good to just let it (rest). I can give it its full duration to rest."

Marcus Rashford was forced off with a back injury shortly after coming on
Image: Rashford has been out of action since January with a back problem

The England international also explained how he has raised around £20m for charity in recent weeks to feed school children during the pandemic.

Rashford has teamed up with FareShare, a charity which distributes food to kids who would otherwise go without free school meals due to closures through lockdown, and donations have snowballed.

"I think it's just around £20m now. It's a big number. At first, the donations were going kind of slow. I put a bit of money in myself, it was at like £50,000, £60,000 and then, I just remember two days later, it was at £140,000 and something," he said.

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"It got to the stage where we had a lot of donations, more than we expected, and we were actually struggling to deliver the food to people.

"So that's where the bigger companies like Tesco, Co-op, Asda have come in and helped us with deliveries and that side of things, and their own large donations as well. So yeah, it's definitely a big positive.

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"We don't know how long this is going to go on for. If this would have happened 10 or 15 years ago, it definitely would have affected myself as a kid in the position I was in.

"It's just something I thought if there's a way to try and help people and kids especially, let's just try and do it."

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