Peter Crouch is a columnist for Sportsmail
Marcus Rashford is a talented young striker who is still learning about what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
We all know he has a special ability, as he has been scoring goals for Manchester United’s first team since making his debut as an 18-year-old. He is 21 now and such is his level that Gareth Southgate regards him as part of England’s strongest line-up. Rashford started every Nations League game this autumn.
Talent and ability, however, does not mean you are immune to moments when confidence dips and doubts creep in. This is common in every young footballer. I experienced it, so did all the lads of my generation.
With time, you learn to develop a thick skin. But in the early years, there will be times when things do not go well and you have those moments when the ball won’t roll your way — as was the case for Rashford at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
What you don’t need is to see Jose Mourinho turning around to face the Main Stand, folding his arms and shaking his head after Rashford had lifted a good chance against Young Boys over the bar.
There used to be something cheeky about Mourinho that was endearing. When he came over to England in 2004 you would never have said he was modest, but he had this ability to deliver a line in a press conference or do something on the touchline that would have you laughing.
Marcus Rashford ran through on goal and clipped the ball over the bar against Young Boys
Jose Mourinho folded his arms and looked towards the Main Stand after Rashford’s miss
That’s why I found it so difficult to process what happened as United reached the Champions League knockout phase. The way he threw the water bottles after Marouane Fellaini scored the only goal was just odd, but the reaction to Rashford’s miss was what really stuck with me.
I know that Mourinho said after the game that his reaction was ‘not about Marcus’ and you have to believe him. But, trust me, Rashford — or those close to him — will have watched it since. Such moments leave traces of doubt. Don’t think this is me saying footballers are beyond criticism because we are not.
If standards slip, you leave yourself open and I can tell you now every manager I have played for has bawled me out after I’ve missed chances. You take the rollicking and you move on.
You expect it in a dressing room, it is part of the game. The best managers have an ability to ensure confidence is not completely shattered and they will come out and say something supportive in the media.
What happened with Rashford made me think back to when I played for Liverpool in 2005 and went through that barren spell when I didn’t score for 18 games. Every week my self-belief drained a bit more but, every week, Rafa Benitez made a point of talking about my contribution to the team.
Mourinho knew he was the best when he came to England in 2004 but he also had charm
He talked about it in the press and, in training, kept telling me it didn’t matter who scored. The main thing was for the team to win and he reminded me I was helping us get results. It made a huge difference. In the end he made it so that I knew, one day, the goal I was looking for would come.
How would I have reacted if he had done something similar to Mourinho? It’s hard to say but I know it would not have been helpful in the slightest, no matter what he said afterwards.
Will Rashford have belief if he plays at Southampton on Saturday?
What happens if he gets through as he did against Young Boys but fails to take the opportunity? How does Mourinho, whose team needs some victories, react? Once again we are talking about the situation not being good on United’s side of Manchester and I don’t know how all this will end.
What I do know is that the sense of mischief Mourinho used to bring has gone and the pointed comments he makes are so serious.
It shouldn’t be this way but it’s the reality. Mourinho is a top manager, but has problems to solve. He must hope what happened with Rashford hasn’t added to the growing list.
Rashford looks frustrated during United’s narrow 1-0 victory in the Champions League
The Manchester United manager launched a tray of drinks bottles at Old Trafford on Thursday
Back in August, I put forward an opinion about Bournemouth. I predicted that the campaign would be a struggle for them and suggested it would be difficult for them to stay in the division.
It was not a criticism of Eddie Howe, their impressive manager. I just watched them at times last year and didn’t think they were any better than Stoke. We got relegated, they could have got relegated.
It was all about fine margins.
But they got off to a flying start and the team I watch now has been transformed. Yes, they lost to Arsenal last week but they were unlucky — how many times in the months ahead will they fall behind to the kind of spectacular own goal Jefferson Lerma scored?
Bournemouth have made a strong start to the season and currently sit eighth in the table
Lerma, to me, looks like a top player in the making. David Brooks — another eye-catcher against Arsenal — has also received plenty of headlines for the way he has played, while Nathan Ake’s reputation is blossoming.
The biggest difference, however, is up front. Callum Wilson has come back from injury and reminds me of Les Ferdinand, with his strength, speed and desire. He and Josh King will cause problems for defenders up and down the land.
From what I hear, Howe is very intense with his methods and if you can’t deliver quickly for him, you will find it difficult to make an impact. He is a driven man and has worked wonders to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League.
As things stand, they will be in the elite again next August and I will be happy to have been proven wrong. Bournemouth, with their small stadium and 12,000 crowds, don’t look like a top-flight club. What they do, though, is play like one — that is all that matters.
Eddie Howe is continuing to defy the odds at Bournemouth as they chase a European place
The more I look at the situation with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, the less I understand it. Why, suddenly, has Maurizio Sarri asked him to become something he isn’t?
It gets said that Claude Makelele was the best holding midfielder of all time, but my view is that Kante is a supercharged version of Makelele.
Whereas his predecessor, for France and Chelsea, used to sit in front of the defence, Kante doesn’t stop. He might be the best in his position we have seen.
Managers can’t ask players to be something they are not. It’s like with Gareth Bale — everyone assumed he was a left back until he was pushed further forward and we all realised he had the potential to become a world-class attacker.
Maurizio Sarri keeps an eye on N’Golo Kante during a Chelsea training session earlier this week
Gareth was never going to be a defender and it’s clear to see Kante is never going to be a right-sided creator, so why is Sarri not using a world-class operator in the position in which he has won two Premier League titles and the World Cup?
This is not a slight on Jorginho. He’s class and Chelsea are better for having him, but they won’t be consistently better if Kante is not used as he should be.
The only person who will think this is a good idea, other than Sarri, is Cesar Azpilicueta, who has never had such protection at right back before!
Sarri has preferred playing £50million summer signing Jorginho as his main central midfielder
I couldn’t let this week’s column pass without touching on a remarkable night on Wednesday.
For the first time this season, our home ground felt like it used to — the atmosphere against Derby was brilliant. The result was even better.
To say that we won 2-1, though, doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what happened in the 90 minutes.
Tom Ince gave 10-man Stoke all three points against Derby as he netted the winning goal
We lost Peter Etebo to a red card that could not be disputed, but we still managed to dig out a second-half winner from Tom Ince. The main incident, however, was Bradley Johnson’s apparent bite on Joe Allen.
We had no idea what had gone on from the bench and, typically of Joe, he never made a fuss about things when he got back to the dressing room.
As far as Joe is concerned, that’s the end of it.
There was so much riding on the outcome and Derby are a very good side. Mason Mount and Harry Wilson are quality players and management clearly suits Frank Lampard, so to take three points was massive. I hope this is the start of a big run for us.
Bradley Johnson has been charged by the FA despite Joe Allen denying that he had been bitten
Who’s caught my eye – Neymar
It’s not always for good reasons that someone will appear in this section. I love him as a player, but I can’t stand his theatrics and there was plenty of them against Liverpool on Wednesday.
Next up for me
All the focus is on Saturday’s game at Reading and it’s the only thing I’m interested in. We are getting a little bit of momentum behind us and another win would set us up nicely for a big push in December.
What I’m listening to
The 1975 have a new album out. I saw them years ago, before they were as big as they are now and can’t wait to hear the new stuff.
What I’ve been up to
There was a trip down memory lane on Thursday as I went to Stamford Bridge as a punter, for what must have been the first time in 25 years.
I had an invite from a friend to go to the game against PAOK Salonika, whose fans were incredible.
Anyone who saw the noise and colour in Fulham Broadway station beforehand will know what I mean!