It hasn’t been long since former Class of ’92 member Nicky Butt became the head of United’s youth academy, but it seems he has been making the difference behind the scenes. Recently, though, he entered the spotlight with some interesting words about Marcus Rashford, who he believes can be even stronger with the use of a midfielder who can bring out his strengths from a tactical perspective to add-on from an individual one.
“When Marcus runs at you, you can’t stop him. But until he gets his physicality about him he’s going to find it very hard to play up against some of these centre-halves. It depends how the manager [Jose Mourinho] is going to play; if he plays a Michael Carrick, who can clip balls in for Marcus to run on to, then it’s all different, he can run in behind all day.”
Rashford, who has already scored eight goals for Manchester United, is set to be a star for England for a long time, and he seems the natural successor to a certain Wayne Rooney. Rashford’s rise seems to be in alignment with Rooney’s decline, and one would hope he can have equally successful of a career in his own way. With blistering pace, an incredible attitude and a growing skill set, Rashford is developing aspects of his game that Rooney didn’t always have even in his prime, which is a promising fact to note.
The fearless energy Rashford brings to United is something that is invaluable at the senior level, and, combined with his quality, which Nicky Butt believes is immense, he should have many chances in the first team this season. Butt believes so, at least, stating that he could even replace the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial in the starting team if he continues to play as well as he is, comparing the situation to Lee Sharpe and Ryan Giggs in the ‘90s. While I think this is a minor exaggeration, that level of praise from a personality as close to United’s academy as Butt surely means something.
“Marcus will get opportunities in the first team because he’s that good. Lee Sharpe was the best player in the country, as a youngster, but you couldn’t hold Ryan Giggs back much longer. Here it’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial or whoever’s up top. If Marcus keeps doing what he’s doing with his pace and directness, it’s impossible to hold him back.”
Rashford represents so many major strengths for United at this moment in time, adding to the reasons for which the fans adore him so much. Firstly, he represents the sheer number of options United has, coming off the bench as United’s second super-sub and showing the quality needed. United has a depth of variety that is unrivalled in the Premier League moving forward. Secondly, Rashford is a case and point for academy promotion of players who could be successful- they have a bond with the fans, and in a settled team, they have a platform to succeed.
Finally, Rashford shows that the youth players in the side should slowly become the squad depth in United’s side, in a similar way to the proceedings at Barcelona. Eventually, a squad of academy products and club market-splashing deals could become an even greater force to be reckoned with, and with the unpredictability of United youth to spring upon an opponent, United will be a much more difficult side to defend against.