• Southgate not pressured by Mourinho into Rashford decision

    Manchester United's Jose Mourinho and Marcus Rashford Manchester United's Jose Mourinho and Marcus Rashford

    Gareth Southgate denied Jose Mourinho influenced his decision to call Marcus Rashford up to the senior England squad, rather than allow the Manchester United striker to go to the European Under-21 Championship in Poland next month.

    Mourinho was adamant Rashford should not drop back down to play with the under-21s, as he has won eight caps for the senior team, scoring three minutes into his debut against Australia.

    Southgate initially planned to allow under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd to pick senior players, including Rashford, to enable them to gain tournament experience, but the England manager instead selected Rashford in his squad for June fixtures against Scotland and France.

    “No, I didn’t speak to [United boss Mourinho] about it,” Southgate told reporters on Tuesday. “I just let him know where I was heading at the end.

    “I am not in a position where I can make decisions to keep people happy. I’m not going to achieve that. If I am trying to keep Jose happy, then that’s going to be fairly difficult. So I have got to make decisions that are right for England seniors, long term.

    “I’m always mindful of what is right for the players. Respectfully, none of the managers are likely to be around in 10 years, but people like Marcus Rashford will be.

    “[Rashford’s] relationship with England is key. So we want a good working relationship with the clubs, of course we do. But they have got their own objectives, and they have to make decisions that are right for them.”

    Europa League and EFL Cup winner Rashford ended the season as United’s first-choice striker – selected over captain Wayne Rooney in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and Southgate praised the teenager’s character.

    “Rashford has won more than I won already, which is f****** depressing!” added Southgate. “He is a lad who, whatever you asked him to do, he would do. He’s very clear about that. He’s proud to play for England, he’s a player who respects the decisions of coaches. What I like most of all, is the humility and the mentality.

    “He thinks deeply about the game. He’s got good tactical understanding. What I always find with the young players who come through at United, they’re bred to play in front of 70,000 people every week. That’s part of the mentality of the youth system there.”

    Southgate also revealed that some Premier League clubs have been withholding data on England players from the national team.

    “To clarify, we share our data,” Southgate said. “We don’t always receive data, though. That’s what we would like, because it would help us work out a training schedule when [players] first come into camp. That can be a big help, but we can’t enforce it. That has to be an agreement – sharing – and at the moment some clubs are more comfortable with it than others. One of the dangers, I guess, is the perception of it being leaked.

    “But look, it’s very rare the data throws up something you haven’t clocked as a coach. But it can back up some of your thinking. The coach’s eye is the main thing – how a player is performing.”

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