"Maybe winning this trophy, this Europa League, can give us that little push that we need," United’s 23-year-old forward tells UEFA.com.
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A starter in Manchester United’s 2017 UEFA Europa League final win against Ajax, Marcus Rashford has had the opportunity to learn from striking greats: team-mates Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimović and now Edinson Cavani, plus Reds coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Ahead of the UEFA Europa League final against Villarreal, the 23-year-old England international discussed United’s path to the decider and what victory in Gdańsk might mean for him and his team-mates.
On his pre-final plans
“I prepare the same for every game. I’m quite relaxed. I’ll probably be reading or maybe I’ll watch something. Just normal things that you do when you’re at home. Because you’re always travelling, you’re not really in your house much, you just find a way to make wherever you go home. Once I found out what was right for me in order to be in the right headspace for games, I’ve never changed it. I don’t think I’ll change it for the rest of my career.”
On learning from Edinson Cavani
“His movement in the box is just so focused. If there is a cross coming in, he knows where he needs to end up as the ball is going into the box. It doesn’t come off every time, but he is always roughly in and around the right areas and, If there is something I need for my game, in terms of playing as a centre-forward or a winger, it’s being in the right place at the right time.
“He’s always on the move in the box; he never stands still. As soon as he sees a weakness, he’s relentless with it. He’ll do it time and time again. There aren’t many that have been better than him over the duration of his career. If you look at the age of him, 34, the fact that he can still do it in the Premier League is remarkable. He doesn’t speak great English. I don’t know how it’s managed to work so effortlessly, but it has. And I’m definitely delighted that he’s going to be here for longer as well, so hopefully we’ll manage to win trophies together.”
On UEFA Champions League group stage elimination
“We should have gone through top of the group and we let ourselves down. So, whatever happened in the Champions League happened, and then you’re in the Europa League and it just takes you, maybe, a couple of days to refocus. We had a few team meetings where we’ve obviously got down and said to each other: ‘This is what we’re focused on now.’
“What was our best Europa League performance? [The] Roma [semi-final] at home. We scored a goal, and then we went 2-1 down, and it’s very, very easy to panic in those games. And we didn’t. We came in at half-time and we were calm. We went on to score four or five goals, and it could have been more because we were just so focused. For me that was a sign, because in the past, we could have lost that game 2-1. Maybe two years ago, we would have been going to Rome away behind.”
On Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s management
“Over time, you’ve seen him just grow and grow and grow. We’ve won a lot more games under him in a much shorter space of time than anybody could have imagined. He still has the winning mindset that he had when he was a player. He pushes us every day and every game to be better than the game before. He comes in and is honest with us; he says his opinion and we move on to the next game and get ready. For me, that’s a very important quality.
“It’s been a journey. It’s still the early stages of his, hopefully, long career at United. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, and I feel that we’ve all grown. That’s why this game's important for us. We’re so close to being a team that can compete and win trophies every single season and, maybe winning this title, this Europa League, can give us that little push that we need.”