JOSE MOURINHO made Manchester United ‘savvier’ in the art of winning penalties.
United have been awarded an incredible 42 spot-kicks since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of the club in December 2018.
But Marcus Rashford has revealed it was his predecessor Mourinho, now the boss at Tottenham, who did the groundwork to make sure any fouls lead to awards.
Rashford, 23, said: “I remember when Jose was manager, there were five or six times where I should have had a penalty.
"Jose ended up saying to me ‘If you are not savvy about the way you do it, then you are not going to get it’
"After that, we started to get a few penalties. It was something in terms of development, you have to learn that and understand it.”
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The number of penalties has led to criticism from opposing managers, including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard.
But Rashford insists nobody is diving and it is just the frequency of United’s drives into the box that is leading to fouls from opponents.
He said: “As a forward line, we want to go and score goals.
"When you are making runs in behind or 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.
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“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 penalties can happen.”
The England international used to share the penalty-taking duties with Paul Pogba before Bruno Fernandes arrived 12 months ago.
The 26-year-old Portuguese midfielder has since scored 15 penalties for United.
Rashford will not mind if it is a Fernandes penalty that wins the day when United travel to Anfield on Sunday for the top-of-the-table clash with the current champions.
Having grown up at United, he is steeped in the history of these titanic fixtures and would love to get a goal himself.
Rash has scored three times in eight games against the Red Devils’ bitter enemy – but is yet to find the net at Anfield.
He added: “As a kid from Manchester that supports United, there is no bigger game to score goals in.
“It is definitely a game I am looking forward to, like the rest of the squad.”
Rashford’s most memorable clash with Liverpool came in March 2018 when he scored both goals – in the 14th and 24th minutes – in a 2-1 win.
But he has the Kop’s James Milner to thank for actually being able to finish the game after clattering him in the 28th minute.
The United icon said: “I was just emotionally into the game and I made a tackle and lucky it was on James, as he is not one to roll around on the floor! He just bounced back up.
“It was just a yellow card – on another day it could have been a red card.
“They are the moments you have to learn from and I had the right players around me who made me just get on with the game.”
Rashford also believes United’s failures in the past year – including losing four semi-finals – have brought out leaders in the dressing room.
They have been dumped out of the Carabao Cup twice, the FA Cup and Europa League.
He added: “There are things which have happened where if you don’t come out and be a leader – someone the squad can look to in difficult moments – then it will continue.
“We are more ready now than we were two years ago in terms of leaders on the pitch and ready to fight for trophies.”
*Marcus Rashford was talking to the Football Writers’ Association on receiving the special FWA Tribute Award for his work to fight child poverty.
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