Marcus Rashford: The striker from the wings
By Punit Tripathi
| Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 15:39
A lot has already being talked and written about England’s next big thing – Manchester United’s star kid Marcus Rashford. Rashford has been in the limelight ever since his career began against Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League last season with a brilliant brace. Three days later, Rashford kept the headlines to his name with a brace and an assist against Arsene Wenger’s Gunners, leading United to a 3-2 victory.
Barely 18, Marcus Rashford has the patience and sensibilities beyond his age. He’s the kind of player you want in a five-a-side match. Having composure and an eye for the killer pass, Marcus has a clean ability to hit goals too which makes him an exciting prospect. Such has been his rise that at this time last year, very few people knew him and today he’s being touted as one of the finest prospects in European football.
Marcus has a very unintimidating demeanour and he comes with an almost-absent presence on the field. Light-weighted, averagely-built and with just good height, Marcus has everything to be called average when you look at him. Things, however, change with the ball at his feet. He’s one of the rare breed of strikers these days, who have the ability to take on defenders when deployed on the wings. He enjoys beating defenders, going past them. His feints are smart; he looks for the exact gap and runs. He’s not flashy, he’s uprightly effective.
Marcus had such an impact last season with Manchester United that he was called upon by Roy Hodgson for the England National Team for Euros 2016. The striker, who was third in the pecking order after Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, came on for Wayne Rooney in the match against Iceland, for the last 4 minutes. Four minutes on the clock, some touches on the ball, and was he good! Marcus was regarded as the best English player on the pitch on the day, by one and many. England lost that match, exited from the Euros but won a future. Rashford had dribbled past three opposition defenders meanwhile, which no England stalwart managed in the whole game.
Marcus has tremendous ability on the ball and is one such player who can do almost anything in the attacking third. At 18, Rashford’s fearlessness and adeptness at running at and behind defenders is a pleasure to watch. Many wonder why he was kept on the bench in this season’s Premier League till the match against Hull City. Rashford and Mkhitaryan’s introduction to the game saw a different United. Rashford was running at a tired Hull defence from the left wing, giving space to United’s mercurial striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
His abilities though, were in full flow. Rashford had showed them in the match against Iceland and here, he was raring to impress his new gaffer. Jose Mourinho, known for his indifferent treatment to youngsters, has always talked exceedingly well about Rashford, and on Saturday night, Rashford showed the world why. Hull City looked almost impregnable till the time the dual substitution was made, and the game looked changing thereon. Rashford replaced Anthony Martial, who looks to be out-of-touch since the Euro 2016 campaign.
Rashford seems to look at spaces nobody else does. He’s not a very fine skill-show like Cristiano, neither is he a dribbler like a Lionel Messi or Arjen Robben, but he’s someone who knows how to carry the ball ahead, and that he does very well. He uses his speed to great effect. You’ll always find him running being bent a little, which gives him that little extra impetus against defenders and that extra speed and body control.
Rashford is a right-footed forward, make no mistake. He will not cross with his left leg, but he will be the inverted winger in the mould of an Eden Hazard. What he lacks with his left-foot, he completes that with his finishing. Rashford showed glimpses of what he can do in the box, taking matters in his own hands. Running on to three defenders, Rashford forced a brilliant one-handed diving save from Eldin Jakupovic. The best was yet to come though.
Rashford has all the abilities to play on the wings, but he’s just slightly better as a striker. Wayne Rooney switched roles, and gave Rashford and Mkhitaryan the central proceedings to go to the left. Rooney, at this moment, doesn’t seem to have the speed to go past players, but he did well to go past ElMohamady. Zlatan was looming in the box with his meteoric presence, and three defenders keeping an eye on him. In the 92nd minute, Rashford, with his ghost-like presence, entered the stage, killed the game, and in no time, was in the arms of the United faithful.
United fans were on their feet to applause and cheer their new demi-god. United seemed to have the swagger and fighting spirit back, like Sir Alex Ferguson’s days. The swagger was back with Zlatan and Pogba, the effectiveness came with this young kid. United completely dominated play after the arrival of Rashford and Mkhitaryan, which showed the world exciting days are ahead.
New England manager has asked Marcus to play for the England U-21s, with debates arising that he’s good enough for the senior stage. It looks like the Three Lions are set to give a longer rope to Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, before they take the back-seat and let the meteoric rise of a future star happen. Marcus is known to be a disciplined kid, is loved by all, and does his Chemistry papers well.
There’s only one man the fraternity can thank for this, and it’s not Jose Mourinho but his predecessor, Louis Van Gaal. Van Gaal had a topsy-turvy time at the Carrington, but he’s given a new hope to the fans and the Three Lions are already looking at this very bright prospect. Marcus’s growth has been nothing short of dream-like, but the story unrolling looks even more promising. In one player, United have their next Cristiano Ronaldo, Ole Gunner Solksjaer and Ruud Van Nistelrooy all moulded into one.