José Mourinho says striker Marcus Rashford is under too much pressure

• Manchester United striker turned 21 on Wednesday
• Rashford has scored once for Manchester United this season

José Mourinho believes too much pressure is put on Marcus Rashford given that the Manchester United forward turned 21 only on Wednesday.

Rashford is enduring a goal drought, having scored once for United in 10 appearances this season. In 2018 he has five goals in 17 games. Yet the manager believes Rashford’s rapid rise means too much is expected of a player still developing.

“I think the pressure is probably too high,” Mourinho said. “He just turned 21. How many players at 21 had more game time in a big club, for a big country and national team? How many players are getting these kind of opportunities to develop their potential? Not many. From my point of view, [only] a little pressure will help him to achieve what he can achieve.

“He’s still developing but he has fantastic conditions. He played with me a lot, played in the national team, playing the World Cup, playing the Europa League final, playing two FA Cup finals. He’s having incredible opportunities to develop, which is what he’s doing.”

Romelu Lukaku, last season’s top scorer, has not found the net since late September and United have only 17 goals, 10 fewer than the leaders, Manchester City. Mourinho, asked how he could solve this problem, said: “I don’t like to say we don’t score many goals because our strikers aren’t scoring. The team with more confidence, the players individually with more confidence – more goals will arrive for them.”

Anthony Martial is in form, managing four goals in his past four appearances. Having been prepared to sell him in the summer Mourinho now hopes the forward will sign a new deal. Martial’s contract ends this summer but the club has an option to extend it by 12 months.

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“Obviously I hope they will agree,” Mourinho said. “One thing is that he’s a talented player; everybody knows since he was in Monaco that he is a talented player. Another thing is a talented player with consistency and understanding what a football match is in its total. When you reach that level, or when you are almost reaching that level, is when you become a top player.One thing is top talent, another is a top player. He is now much closer to being a top player. Obviously I would like him to stay. I know the club wants him very much to stay. Hopefully he is going to stay.”

This week Mourinho was found not guilty of using offensive language by a Football Association independent commission. He was alleged to have sworn in Portuguese after last month’s win over Newcastle, and the FA is considering an appeal. Mourinho explained part of his defence: “You know that between Portuguese, Spanish, Italians, we are saying that word five times every 10 seconds and we don’t offend anyone. Anyone. It’s the same thing as you English say some similar words, but a bit different. You are not offending. You are just frustration, happiness, here it comes. All the time.”