It has been a very long time since there was huge excitement over the emergence of a young player who is destined to hit the top, with Wayne Rooney arguably the last one to make people stand up and take notice of their precocious talent. Louis Van Gaal may have stumbled across Marcus Rashford due to the spate of injuries that hit Manchester United last season, but there can be no question that the 18-year-old has the ability to go a long way in the game. He is the sort of player that fans get behind, with his energy, enthusiasm and determination to work hard for the team endearing himself to those who feel like Manchester United should focus on bringing more English talent through the youth system. A bright pre-season will have been enough to show Jose Mourinho just how good Rashford is at such a young age, and although some would argue that his talent has to be nurtured and utilised effectively instead of going overboard with the hype and seeing his career go the same way as Cherno Samba and Freddy Adu, he has to play.
Scoring a brace on his Europa League and Premier League debuts, not to mention a hat-trick in his first appearance for England Under 21’s side in their recent 6-1 hammering of Norway, is proof, if any was needed, of just how good Rashford is. He was starved of support as Manchester United started this season’s Europa League campaign with defeat in Feyenoord, despite being rated amongst the favourites with Betway in the latest football betting odds, but Rashford still wanted to get involved and make things happen.
The young man has not been fazed by playing for one of the biggest clubs in world football, and although he was also a part of England’s poor Euro 2016 campaign which ended in defeat at the hand of Iceland, Rashford made things happen in brief substitute appearances against Wales and Iceland. It led to many fans believing that Rashford should have played more in France this summer and feature prominently during Sam Allardyce’s reign as England manager, with those thoughts now being echoed by Manchester United fans who want to see the young star in the starting line-up. Scoring the dramatic late winner at Hull after coming off the bench was yet another example of what Rashford can do when given the chance, and given that he scored five goals in eleven starts last season, Mourinho should be starting the 18-year-old.
You only have to look at the difference he made when he came on for Jesse Lingard at half-time in the Manchester derby, with the crowd instantly lifted by his arrival at a time when the team needed a major kick up the backside after being outplayed by Pep Guardiola’s men. He offered more of a threat with his pace and direct play, but although the youngest scorer in a Manchester derby (Rashford scored the only goal in United’s 1-0 win at the Etihad back in March) was unable to stick another one past our city rivals, Rashford offered more than a number of players who incurred Mourinho’s wrath during his post-match comments.
He is more than ready to come into the team ahead of Lingard who appears more focused on making ridiculous ‘dab’ celebration videos than progressing as a footballer, and although Mourinho did not reveal which players he felt had let him down, being taken off at half-time might be a giveaway that Lingard may be replaced by the teenage sensation. The upcoming game against Leicester at Old Trafford could be the perfect opportunity to take the shackles off Rashford and allow the lad to show everyone what he can do; backing him to score with Betway would be a smart move for any punter, considering that Rashford has proved he can deliver in the big games. He would provide Manchester United with another attacking threat to compliment Anthony Martial on the other wing and Zlatan Ibrahimovic through the middle – a front three that could fire Manchester United towards glory this season.
Having pace to burn, a real hunger to succeed and clinical finishing abilities makes Rashford such an exciting player to watch, but perhaps his greatest quality is his humility. Many players at his age let the hype and media attention go to their head and lose focus on fulfilling their true potential – Rashford has remained grounded throughout his meteoric rise to prominence and comes across more mature than his tender age would suggest. Spending £800,000 on a new home for his mum is also a sign that family is where the heart is for Rashford, as other players in his shoes would be tempted to blow the money on themselves and lose sight of perspective. Fans will undoubtedly been keen to watch Rashford blossom into one of the brightest young talents that Manchester United and England have seen for many years, and if Mourinho can further his development, then the 18-year-old could become a real star.