Louis van Gaal has insisted 18-year-old starlet Marcus Rashford didn’t save his job in the Manchester United hot seat.
Rashford scored twice in the 5-1 win over FC Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League before bagging another brace in the 3-2 victory over Arsenal on Sunday to lift the gloom from Old Trafford.
However, Van Gaal told reporters the youngster’s emergence isn’t what’s kept him in charge but that instead it's the club’s policy of giving youth players a chance, per Simon Peach of the Press Association (h/t MailOnline):
(The young players) want to prove and they want to show to the world, to the manager, to everybody, that they are the best, so they always give spirit to a team.
Now I have read that Rashford is saving me. No, no, Rashford is thanks to my policy, and the club, of course, [and he] has proved that.
Four wins out of four in all competitions has reignited United’s charge for a place in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League, with the club’s young guns seizing their opportunities in the first team with a string of excellent performances.
Many fans criticised Van Gaal’s lack of spending in the January transfer window, as there were positions seemingly in desperate need of being filled.
Left-back, for example. Injuries to Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo looked to have left the Dutch boss without any options at the turn of the year, yet the emergence of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson eased supporters’ worries.
And Van Gaal said these successful arrivals on the big stage could see the club decide to have faith in the kids rather than splashing the cash in the transfer window. Besides, it worked with the left-back slot:
In January we took the risk for the left-back position that we didn't buy.
We needed a left-back and we inquired about a lot of players. Some have said it now.
It is always the agent that is doing that because it is interesting Man United is inquiring, but we said, "Okay, maybe Borthwick-Jackson and [Guillermo] Varela can do the job."
There was Spanish interest in Varela and we said no because of that.
However, Van Gaal also admitted that having some experience on the pitch is important, as youngsters fail to find the consistency of seasoned professionals.
Even so, the Dutchman was quick to concede things are looking up at Old Trafford, with the teenagers forcing the old guard to raise their games:
Youngsters are not consistent, we are talking about consistency. There are of course exceptions like Martial, but that is a big exception.
Most of the players cannot show that every week, so it is a big risk, but, at the end, we are in three competitions still and the team has more spirit and the older players are coming back.
So we have a great momentum at this moment because we have discovered that a lot of players can play at this level and the older players have to compete with these youngsters.
And it's fantastic and that is also what I have experienced at my other teams, so I think it's always good to have youngsters in your selection.
Manchester United sit fifth in the Premier League, level on points with Manchester City in fourth, although their bitter rivals have a game in hand.
Victory away at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday will keep up the pressure on City, and if the kids once again prove they’re all right, the pressure will also be on United’s returning stars.