On February 28th 2016, Louis Van Gaal handed Manchester United academy product Marcus Rashford his first Premier League start for the club at home to Arsenal, and he instantly endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful by scoring a brace.
In a frantic first-half in which the Arsenal defence simply couldn’t cope with Rashford’s blistering speed and direct approach, the teenager capped an eye-catching display by scoring two goals before the break.
It was an afternoon when United’s next superstar was born in emphatic fashion, but how has his career panned out ever since?
Well, Rashford has already been capped 26 times at international level at just 20-years-old and he has made 132 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 33 goals and providing 18 assists in the process.
But there exists a feeling on the red side of Manchester that Rashford’s development is being tarnished by Jose Mourinho’s regressive brand of football, whilst the presence of Romelu Lukaku has prevented him from showcasing his talent at centre-forward since the Belgian’s arrival.
There is absolutely no question that Rashford is blessed with tantalising ability and enormous potential to improve in the future, it’s just a case of working out exactly where he fits in to United’s system.
A glowing display on the left-side of England’s front-three during their recent 3-2 victory over Spain proved that he is more than capable of thriving in that position, as he capped his performance with a delicious assist for Raheem Sterling’s opener and a smart finish under pressure to double the Three Lions’ advantage.
What Rashford needs at United is a manager who will inject a free-flowing philosophy into the club and allow him to rotate positions with the likes of Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez, but until that happens his development will ultimately be restricted.
Considering the extent of Rashford’s quality, how deeply he is adored by the United supporters and his deep-rooted affiliation with the club, there is no doubt he could eventually go on to become a club legend under the right circumstances.
Mourinho’s departure may well represent the catalyst for Rashford to truly flourish at United, and until then the club must ensure that they do everything they can to keep him happy – otherwise they could end up waving goodbye to one of the brightest talents of England’s next generation.
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