It’s not often a young player makes an entrance similar to the one Marcus Rashford did last season. From February to the season’s climax, the prodigy became an integral part of then manager Louis van Gaal’s starting 11 and scored important goals at important times for the Red Devils. But with the summer arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the teenager has found himself on the periphery this term and has been thrust into a new wing role when he has made appearances for Jose Mourinho.
With his happiness potentially depleted, Slaven Bilic decided to try his hand and attempt to poach the young ace away from United, only to have his efforts rejected in no uncertain terms according to the Manchester Evening News. It further emphasises the regard Rashford is held in at United, even if his form this season has been nothing short of patchy and his devastating effect depleted somewhat. It’s also a good indicator that Jose Mourinho is finally taking young players seriously (something previously lost on him and a major concern for the supporters before his appointment) and sees them as a key part of his plans for the future.
There’s no doubting Rashford’s ability – you don’t do what he did last season if you are the next Federico Macheda – but there has been quite the air of disappointment surrounding his performances this season and with just cause. Rashford cuts a broken figure, disinterested and lacking in the confidence that grew so hugely earlier this calendar year. Perhaps the fact he has been thrown out wide has damaged him, the fact he has gone from the main man to second fiddle behind Ibrahimovic may also be playing a part. Whatever it is, the player we were treated to last season appears to have lost what made him sparkle so brightly.
He has still contributed to the goals, 4 in 22 appearances may not be prolific but it’s better than nothing. He simply now has to find the solution to his confidence issues in a manner so often neglected by the young players produced by the United Academy (Adnan Januzaj anyone?). The reluctance of the club to relinquish his services is a wonderful sign they see him working at this, and know with enough time he can recapture what brought him to the world’s attention 10 months ago. The fact even a loan move appears out of the question implies the hierarchy believe staying put is what he needs to better his career.
Nothing can ever be fully ruled out, and should Rashford fail to get anywhere close to the heights he scaled under Louis van Gaal then it wouldn’t surprise me to see him on his merry way as so many have before him. But the faith shown in him is refreshing to see, and should hopefully serve as some form of a confidence boost to take onto the pitch. Perhaps the chance to play in his natural position may be the final requirement, but whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to bang in the goals I can’t see that being an option.