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Friday 9 December 2016

Zlatan: Rash can rule the world

United striker backs team-mate to 'take over everything'

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in action against Manchester City’s Fernandinho during last Saturday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in action against Manchester City’s Fernandinho during last Saturday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Marcus Rashford's talent is so great that the forward will in time "take over everything" and pledged to help the Manchester United teenager reach his peak.

It is just 199 days since the relatively unknown 18-year-old was thrown in for a last-minute debut in February's Europa League last-32 clash with FC Midtjylland.

A brace against the Danes proved just the start, scoring another double against Arsenal on his Premier League bow and the winner at Manchester City, before netting on his England debut, going to Euro 2016 and netting a hat-trick on his maiden England Under-21s appearance.

Such talent has excited United supporters and fans nationwide, but Rashford has been used off the bench so far by Jose Mourinho having started regularly under predecessor Louis van Gaal.

Ibrahimovic knows it is only a matter of time until the forward is shining from the start, but the summer signing believes this patient, gentle approach will pay dividends.

"First of all, he's 18, he's still young," he said. "He has a lot of time.

"I think the way you have to approach a player like that, where everyone is talking about the talent and what he's able to do and what kind of potential he has, is to remember he still has a lot of time.

"It's not like he needs to take over the world today, the club knows that, the coach knows that and the team knows that.

"We know his quality and what he's able to do. What the world is seeing now, we already know because we see it every day.

"There is no need to rush to push him and put him in the heat zone and put a lot of pressure on him because that can have the opposite effect.

"Time by time, he will take over everything. It's about having patience." Ibrahimovic's arrival has helped alleviate pressure that could have started to build on Rashford after his stunning breakthrough season.

The 34-year-old knows a thing or two about what is needed to flourish at the top and will help his team-mate to do the same. "I'll help him every day, him and all the others, in any way I can," he said.

"I'm happy it gives an effect but, even if I was not here, they would still do good."

Meanwhile, Marouane Fellaini is hurting as much as anyone after the Manchester derby defeat but knows United cannot afford to dwell on it with domestic and European assignments to balance.

Fester

Mourinho saw his 100 per cent start to life in the Old Trafford hotseat come to an end on Saturday when Pep Guardiola's City emerged 2-1 victors from a pulsating clash.

Fellaini was disappointed by the loss but knows United cannot allow that feeling to fester, with the Red Devils having to prepare for Thursday's trip to Rotterdam to take on Feyenoord as their Europa League campaign gets under way.

"Everyone is disappointed today, which is normal after losing a derby, but this is the fourth game of the season and every team will lose games," the Belgium midfielder said.

"We have to focus on the next game now and be ready. The first half was difficult, but we created chances as well and it could have been 2-2 at the end of the half, so I think that is not the problem.

"The problem was we needed to be more aggressive to win the first and second balls but we didn't. However, the attitude was better in the second half.

"We didn't have the aggression in the first half, but that doesn't matter now. We have to focus on the next game and we have to win."

The City match was the first of six September matches, with a Premier League trip to Watford and EFL Cup clash at Northampton following their journey to Holland.

Reigning champions Leicester and then Ukraine's Zorya Luhansk arrive at Old Trafford during a frantic month that offers United the chance to build up some positive momentum after the City loss.

"We were always in Manchester City's box causing trouble," Fellaini said. "But we did not hit the target enough so it is always going to be difficult to score. We have 34 more games, so we must win our next game."

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