Manchester United captain, Bruno Fernandes, has explained why he let Marcus Rashford take a penalty in their 3-0 victory over Everton on Sunday.
The England international forward hit a personal-best 30 goals for the Red Devils last season, but headed to Goodison Park in 2023-24 with just one effort to his name. He was able to double that tally from the spot on Merseyside, with club captain Fernandes stepping aside after a VAR review presented United with an opportunity to score their second goal of the game from 12 yards – following a spectacular overhead kick opener from Alejandro Garnacho.
Quizzed on why he passed the ball to Rashford, Fernandes – who is the Red Devils’ go-to option on penalty duty – told Sky Sports: “Because I felt that Marcus needed a bit of confidence, needed goals. Marcus is an excellent penalty-taker too. I’m 100 per cent sure that he could score the penalty. It’s not about who takes it, it’s about scoring the penalty and Marcus did it perfectly.”
Rashford has faced plenty of uncomfortable questions this season, on the back of signing a lucrative new contract at Old Trafford, but Fernandes says none of the 26-year-old’s team-mates have ever doubted his quality. He said when asked if Rashford’s confidence has dipped: “Obviously strikers, wingers, they want to score goals, they need to score goals, that’s part of their game and it gives you a boost. After the penalty, Marcus was unstoppable – he could take on everyone. I think sometimes you need this chance, this opportunity to get confidence back. But Marcus has been great for us. Obviously last season he was amazing, so everyone’s expectations for this season were higher. It’s just about getting his goals back and everyone will stay say that he is world-class again.”
United boss Erik ten Hag added to BBC Match of the Day when asked how much Rashford needed his goal: “A lot. You see also how great captain Bruno is. He assessed his team-mate needed that goal. He has the confidence in Rashy, who is a good penalty taker. As a team you need that leadership that you back each other. We have to go step by step. This is one step.”