Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has launched an impassioned defence of his use of Marcus Rashford during his time at Old Trafford, while also taking a swipe at rival clubs Liverpool and Chelsea.
Those comments came after the England international netted twice for his country in games against Spain and Switzerland, promoting suggestions that he deserves more minutes at United.
Mourinho was prepared for questions on Rashford's future at Friday's weekly press conference, though, and reading from a list of statistics during a four-minute rant, the Portuguese hit out at the 'compulsive liars' who suggest that the 20-year-old is underused at club level.
"Speaking about Marcus, I think I can expect that Sunday I'm going to be highly criticised for not playing him tomorrow, because some of the boys are really obsessed with me and some of them have a problem with some compulsive lies," he told reporters. "So I can expect that Sunday some of them will wake up in the morning and the first thing they think of is Jose Mourinho, so I can imagine on Sunday I am going to be criticised for not playing Marcus but it's not my fault, he's suspended, so probably you should remind them he is suspended and cannot play.
"So I'm going to do something, not for you, but the United fans, and I think I hold myself to the United fans and so for them I am going to spend two mins with you. In 2016-17, Marcus Rashford played 32 Premier League matches, 11 Europa League matches, including the final, three FA Cup matches, six League Cup matches, including the final, and the Community Shield. He had 53 appearances, but if you want to take to the minutes of play, he played 3,068, and if you wan to divide that by 90-minute matches, he played 34.2 matches of 90-minute matches in 2016-17.
"In 2017-18, he played 35 Premier League matches, eight in the Champions League, five in the FA Cup, three League Cup matches and the European Super Cup final. He played a total of 52 matches with 2,676 mins, and if you divide that by 90, it gives you 29.7 matches, so with me, in two seasons, he had 105 appearances, 5,774 mins, 63.7 matches of 90 minutes, including five finals, so the people speaking about these minutes, I think they are a bit confused. Marcus is not Dominic Solanke, not Ruben Loftus-Cheek, not Dominic Calvert-Lewin, he's Marcus Rashford, a Manchester United player, with an incredible number of appearances and an incredible number of minutes played at the highest level in the best possible competitions.
"So Manchester United supporters, for you and just for you, to know what we are doing with Marcus, Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, that's what we are doing here. Continuing his attack on pundits who criticised his handling of Rashford, Mourinho added: "Some of the persons, everybody knows they have double salaries, they work also for the clubs and of course they are not independent and they conduct things in the direction they want, that's obvious. It's natural, not ethical, but I accept it. The ones that wake up in the morning and the first thing that comes into their mind is Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, I feel sorry for them because there are more exciting things in life.
"The most important thing of all is that the kid is a good kid, a good player, knows what Manchester United did for him, starting in the academy, then Mr Van Gaal's support, my support, the club's support, a new contract, new shirt, and selected for every single match. Since I was here, he was never one day out for selection because of my decision, only if injured or suspended. He was never, ever out for selection, so he knows, and that's the most important thing."
As well as missing this weekend's trip to Vicarage Road, Rashford will also sit out games against Young Boys and Wolverhampton Wanderers.