A year ago, not many United fans had heard of Marcus Rashford. Even fewer had heard of Anthony Martial. Less than a year later, the attacking duo is considered to be United’s two brightest prospects moving forward, and it is easy to see why. However, recently, both footballers seem to be hitting a bit of a rough patch.
Marcus Rashford has been slightly hindered by the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which was needed regardless of what the envious will tell you. Rashford’s inability to break into the first team has sparked comments from England manager Sam Allardyce, saying that it would be tough to select Rashford if he wasn’t playing regularly for United.
Anthony Martial’s situation is much more complicated than Rashford’s, unfortunately. After experiencing a divorce at such a young age, Martial’s Euros was worse than most expected, after manager Didier Deschamps placed him low in the pecking order, behind the likes of Antoine-Pierre Gignac and Olivier Giroud. He appeared to be unsettled by United’s decision to give his number 9 shirt to Ibrahimovic, especially considering he started branding with the number 9, even though the club meant for 11 to be an upgrade.
However, regardless of how they are doing, United must persist with them, because both have the potential to be in the top bracket of world football. Already, gifted players, there is so much more to come from Martial and Rashford, and there is now a world class group of playing staff to carry them when they’re down.
The likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic, and Paul Pogba should be able to release some of the burden on two players as young as Martial and Rashford, which is why it makes sense to add them to the ranks while letting Martial and Rashford play their football. United has goals and assists in them without Martial and Rashford, who seem to be experiencing the typical second-season syndrome.
The way United fans treated Memphis last season was poor, and much like the Dutchman there are going to be tough times for Martial and Rashford. Also much like Memphis, though, Martial and Rashford have great strength of mind and body, and with hard work, they will pull through. The only difference with Memphis is that United’s expectations of him are very low. Rashford, Memphis, and Martial were never added to the side because of the talents they are now- they were added for the talents they will be in five years, assuming everything goes well.
Martial has admittedly not played his best football in the opening three games of United’s season. Even so, he picked up two assists in the process, which should show his true talent on an even greater level. Rashford, meanwhile, hasn’t started or appeared for United since the Community Shield, but the fact Mourinho has seemingly pinned all hopes on him should Ibrahimovic get injured says enough about his quality.
One must remember that Martial and Rashford’s stock cannot possibly get any higher- they are on incredible highs at very young ages. Before they progress further, there will be a period in which they calm down and are able to relax regardless of the skyrocketing hype around them. Martial entered Old Trafford as the most expensive teenager in the world, costing United £36 million, and while many thought it’d take him years to live up to the price tag, he arguably did most of his work in the first season. Meanwhile, Rashford became an option because United had 16 injuries and needed to progress in the Europa League, and he went on to almost fire United into the top four.
No one expected Martial and Rashford to rise so quickly, and therefore the expectations shouldn’t be altered. Martial and Rashford’s struggles on the pitch for United haven’t begun yet, but the signs are there, and everyone needs to remember the long-term goal. Take a step back, look at the big picture, and continue to support United’s two brightest young prospects, because even if it doesn’t seem like it at times, Manchester United fans have the opportunity to be the spectators of two spectacular stories.