Marcus Rashford – the complete footballing package 

It’s hard to imagine a young player in the modern game who has all the attributes of Marcus Rashford. His appeal is obvious – a young goal scorer, with blistering pace and a local upbringing, make him both a coach and a marketer’s dream.

Joining United from the renowned Fletcher Moss Junior football club, Rashford followed in the footsteps of Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck and Ravel Morrison in coming from the Manchester area of Didsbury. In 2015/16 Rashford’s dramatic rise saw him score twice on his first-team debut in the Europa League defeat of FC Midtjylland, before scoring another brace three days later against Arsenal.

But what makes Rashford so unique? At just 19, his instant impact for both club and country has set him apart, but others like Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney can also lay claim to immediate scoring success. Aside from his eye for goal, it has been Rashford’s all round game and influence on the United offence that has created the most excitement amongst Old Trafford fans – especially rare in such a young player. Apart from his obvious goal-scoring talents, here are some of Rashford’s other exciting credentials;

The creator

With much of Rashford’s 2016/17 season being played on the flank in support of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rashford has started to prove his ability as a creative force. None more so than in the second leg against Celta Vigo when he whipped the ball into the box for Marouane Fellaini to score and send United to the Europa League Final, it underlined his currency to United as a complete attacking threat. In his youth career, Rashford first looked to the role of creator over out-and-out goal scorer; his United under-18 coach Paul McGuinness said to the BBC “He wasn’t goal obsessed, he would play up front but he was always wanting to be the clever number 10.”

Dead ball specialist

The opinions are divided about whether centre forwards should be taking corners with Robin Van Persie causing the same conjecture when he started taking set-pieces for United. But it is the inconvenient truth that United has not had a consistent and successful corner and free-kick taker since David Beckham. Rashford’s dead ball free kick in the first leg against Celta Vigo was not only a wonderful piece of skill to score, but also a sign of his growing responsibility to step up alongside more experienced and fancied teammates.

Questioned why Rashford was taking United’s free-kicks and corners against Premier League champions Chelsea, Jose Mourinho told MUTV;

“He’s always tense, he’s always fast, and you can always trust that [he will make] strong contact with the ball. In this moment Marcus is one of the boys we trust.”

A level head 

For a young man with a new contract in 2016 and the world at his feet, perhaps Rashford’s most valuable characteristic is his attitude, which has been widely acclaimed by his coaches and teammates. Former Youth coach Paul McGuinness after he left United said of Rashford’s attitude;

“Marcus is a great lad and very humble. When I left United he was the first to send a text to say thanks for the work we had done.”

Midfield veteran Michael Carrick has also chimed in as reported by the Manchester Evening News;

“What I like about him, and what’s good for him, is his attitude and he’s learning all the time – he’s willing to take things on board. He’s a real down to earth lad so hopefully, that’s going to bring the full potential out of him.”

The last teenage player to create such optimism at Old Trafford was a young Portuguese winger who needs no introduction. The raw pace and fearless attitude are obvious comparisons between Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo and the young Englishman’s record exhibits a striking resemblance to Ronaldo’s first two seasons at United where the now Real Madrid talisman scored 9 goals in 60 appearances (Rashford has scored 10 in 42 games). Ronaldo’s next four seasons at Old Trafford netted over a century of goals, serving as a stark reminder to Rashford what improvement and trajectory are necessary to continue to be spoken about in the same company as Ronaldo.

If you combine Rashford’s attributes with his eye for goal, United fans can start to salivate at the prospect of Marcus Rashford flying across the Old Trafford turf in a few seasons time. He has not only the all-around talent to have an impact on all parts of United’s offence, but the proven attitude to keep improving and sustainably stay at the top of his game for more than a decade. This type of complete package is rarely seen in modern football. The American’s would call Rashford a ‘franchise player,’ a fact not lost on Jose Mourinho as he contemplates the summer transfer window.

Written by Dave Campbell


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