Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has lambasted former Crystal Palace tactician Frank de Boer, labelling him the “worst manager in Premier League history”, after the Dutchman criticised his treatment of striker Marcus Rashford.
The 20-year-old frontman has been used sparingly by Mourinho this season but marked his return to the starting line-up with a match-clinching double against rivals Liverpool on Saturday.
While summarising the game for BT Sport, De Boer claimed it was a “pity” that Mourinho was responsible for Rashford’s development given his prioritisation of results and lack of inclination to nurture younger players.
But on the eve of his side’s Champions League last-16 second-leg showdown with Sevilla, Mourinho hit back at De Boer, who endured an ill-fated spell as Palace earlier this season during which the Eagles lost all four top-flight matches without scoring.
“I read something, some quote from the worst manager in the history of the Premier League – Frank de Boer,” said Mourinho.
“What he was saying was it was not good for Marcus Rashford to have a coach like me because the most important thing for me is to win. If he was coached by Frank, he would learn to lose because he lost every game.
“I try to give the best to the kid. I have to be honest and give the credit to the people of the academy that were responsible for his formation, and to Mr [Louis] Van Gaal who was responsible for his first season.
“But if you go by numbers and how many matches he played with me last season and this, I would say probably he’s in the top five players with more matches in the two seasons. The best thing that can happen to a kid is experience and Marcus is having this.”
Mourinho confirmed that £89m midfielder Paul Pogba returned to training on Monday afternoon but is unsure whether he will return for Tuesday's showdown, as United bid to build on their goalless draw in Spain last month.
The Portuguese also suggested that, while United are not among the favourites to win this year’s tournament, reaching the quarter-finals presents all sorts of possibilities.
“We are not one of the best teams in the competition but when a team arrives in the last eight, anything can happen,” added Mourinho.
“When you are in the last 16 it looks really, really far but when you are in the last eight you start smelling the semi-finals, the feeling is that you are amongst the best.”
Midfielder Michael Carrick, meanwhile, has announced his intention to retire at the end of the season.