Marcus Rashford is Manchester United’s home-grown talent but he must make the most of his limited chances
Louis Van Gaal won’t be remembered for bringing much joy or success to Manchester United and its fans, however the one thing he will be remembered for is the introduction of a then unknown Marcus Rashford to the Old Trafford faithful.
Exactly 413 days to this date forward Anthony Martial would get injured in the warm-up for a Europa League match against FC Midtjylland and unbeknown to him at the time, the Manchester-born teenager would get his chance to shine. Rashford would go on to score two goals on the night followed by another brace on his Premier League debut against Arsenal just three days later, making him United’s third youngest-ever Premier League goal scorer.
To this date Rashford has scored 16 goals in 61 appearances, scoring eight goals under both Van Gaal and Mourinho. However, after making 25 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese manager compared to the 11 the youngster made under Van Gaal, Rashford has scored one less goal, four.
So will Rashford flop under Mourinho, or is this simply a blip in an otherwise meteoric rise?
Born in Wythenshawe, Manchester, Rashford is the definition of a home-grown talent, joining United’s prestigious youth academy at the age of seven after impressing scouts with his performances for junior side Fletcher Moss Rangers, his rise through the ranks has been a rapid one, epitomised by making his international debut for England at the age of 18 scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Australia to make him the youngest-ever English player to score at senior level.
Under the leadership of Van Gaal last season, Rashford, along with Martial, was the shining star in an otherwise dim year. His introduction to the first team brought a breath of fresh air to a United team lacking pace and agility, and his direct running wreaked havoc to opposition defences who simply didn’t know how to cope with the youth products attacking prowess.
Finishing the 2015-16 season in style with a crucial superb away goal at West Ham in the FA Cup quarter-final, which took United to Wembley and eventually lead to them lifting the Cup, the teenage sensation was rewarded with a new bumper contract tying him down to the club until 2020 as Manchester United looked to wade of potential buyers.
Management change was needed however and as ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was brought in, so was Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Having one of Europe’s most prolific goal scorers at the club was always going to limit the opportunities that Rashford would get this season and you would be hard pushed to find a United fan who doesn’t want Ibrahimovic at the club, after his 17 goals in the Premier League alone have single headedly kept United in contention for a top-four finish.
However, few could have expected that Mourinho would limit the youngster’s progression this much. Making only 13 league starts this season with most of those seeing Rashford placed on the left wing, the young forward has failed to find the headline writing form that he ended his debut season with, struggling for consistency and the goal scoring touch for which everyone knows he possesses.
Unfortunately for the 18-year-old Mourinho’s record of promoting youngsters is poor and rumours that Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezman could be on his way to the Theatre of Dreams in the summer put the future of the promising youth academy product in even more doubt.
After being nominated for the Golden Boy award for another successive season, the evidence that Marcus Rashford is a fantastic talent with huge global appeal is there for all to see, but whether he will be given his chance to shine under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho is another thing entirely. Rashford must make the most of the limited chances given to him at United otherwise the exit door may just be looming for him in the not so distant future.
By Ryan Walker
This image is provided by Indolivescore ils.
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