He may not be scoring at the rate he did last season after his dream debut for Manchester United, but Marcus Rashford is still making an impact on this season. Though a memorable moment of Rashford this season is his last-minute winner at Hull City in the Premier League, but what he is doing down the wings is just as important as scoring goals. Rashford is a distraction for defenders when he is on the field. He is drawing fullbacks away from their central defenders and opening gaps for players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and others playing in the attack. United’s attack has the potential to be lethal and rival other strong attacking partnerships in not just the Premier League but all of Europe.
Rashford is still only 19 years old and has a lot to learn before he can be the main striker for a top club in the world. However, the youngster is making strides. He does not have to score to dictate the pace of the game, open gaps in opposition defence and help United win matches. Playing in primarily wide positions this season due to Ibrahimovic’s dominance in the centre forward position, Rashford is not playing in the role that he broke into the first team with under Louis van Gaal. He is still getting chances to shoot as he did in United’s recent 3-0 win over Leicester at King Power Stadium.
With his pace and vision, Rashford is deadly down the wing. Fans have seen what he is capable of doing up the middle and now they are getting glimpses of what he can do down the flanks. By driving at defenders in a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque fashion he creates absolute chaos for backlines. Anthony Martial is also capable of the same explosive drive but has a little more flair than Rashford when doing so. Rashford makes it simple. He drives at his opponent and will on occasion drop his shoulder, sending the defender one direction as he zips by him. Rashford does not have to bring in the fancy footwork to trick defenders, but he is unpredictable.
Defenders do not know what Rashford will do on any given dribble, which he uses to his advantage. Defenders forget to mark others and Rashford creates the openings for his teammates to score. He does not need to score, he just has to create for the team to score. He may not lead the team in goals yet, but he might after Ibrahimovic’s time with United is up in the next few years. Being young has not hindered Rashford’s ability to perform on the big stage. He has scored for England’s first team and has been vital in multiple big matches for United before even leaving the teenage years. Now, he has to learn how to keep momentum and be patient with the process.
Having Ibrahimovic, an experienced player and one of the greatest strikers to play the game, will be invaluable to Rashford. The Swede is leading United with goals (20 in all competitions) as he proves his worth at 35-years-old in the most difficult league in the world. Ibrahimovic is not the only player who can impact Rashford’s career trajectory and potential success at United. Wayne Rooney can also be an invaluable mentor to his fellow compatriot.
Rooney is United’s all-time leading scorer now and though he may be on his way out of Old Trafford, Rashford has had the chance and still has time to learn from the former Everton striker. Rooney has scored some spectacular goals in his career and has made it out of slumps and survived the downs and thrived in the ups of his record-setting career. The United and England captain can combine with Ibrahimovic to mentor Rashford and mold the United academy product into a machine and a legend at Old Trafford.