New manager, same old story. In the light of yet another lacklustre England performance, the Sam Allardyce critics have been out in full force, with many questioning why Marcus Rashford was not selected. Funnily enough, some of these people are the ones who were praising Allardyce for his management of Rashford when the squad was initially announced, ‘he will play more in the U21’s’ they said, but in actual fact that England eleven was crying out for a Rashford type player yesterday evening, in Slovakia.
Courtesy of an Adam Lallana last gasp winner, the Three Lions kicked off their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with three points – but, it is important that does not paper over the cracks. It must be mentioned that the England boss who is full of Premier League experience has only had around a week with the squad, but yesterday seemed like a typical England performance – boring and far from spectacular against a side that other top nations would have seen off quite comfortably, especially when you take into consideration the fact they had 10 men for the last half an hour.
The usual suspects took to the field for England and the most controversial name to miss out for the country is Manchester United’s Rashford. The young striker kick-started his England first team career in fine style in the preparation to UEFA European Championships with a goal inside the first couple of minutes against Australia. When the tournament actually began, we never really saw the 18-year-old pick up enough minutes on the field to show what he can really do, however, he did make an impact. Up against arguably the surprise package of the tournament, Wales, the forward came on and gave England that extra attacking threat – a player who was not afraid to get at the opposition, he caused an extra problem for the Welsh backline. In his appearance against Iceland, he came on too late, despite being 2-1 down for much of the game, the then manager of the nation Roy Hodgson left Rashford on the bench until the 86th minute, when he got onto the pitch he unbelievably took on more players than any other player did parading the England shirt for the best part of 90 minutes.
The reasoning the former Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United, and Sunderland manager gave for leaving Rashford out of the first England squad of his tenure was the fact he has not started enough matches in the Jose Mourinho era so far this season. Going by that logic, Joe Hart and Chris Smalling should have also missed out. The actual reason the youngster did not get selected, in my opinion, was because Allardyce knew he would not get many if any, minutes on the field – which is fair enough when you put it like that. Although, I view that as a poor decision from Allardyce, in an ideal world I would have the Wythenshawe-man featuring in near enough each and every game for his country. Rashford does thing’s most England players seem almost afraid to do – run at the defence and take on their man, too much of what we are witnessing currently and have done for some time now is in front of the defence, too patient and not enough ruthlessness – United’s man could change that and inspire others to do the same. Even if England did not start him, he has already portrayed the impact he can have coming off the bench, for the Three Lions in France and for Manchester United at Hull City in the last game before the international break where he popped up with an important last-minute goal to clinch a victory for United.
Rashford’s dis-inclusion in the United eleven is currently understood and not that concerning as the manager has made it clear that he will be used often throughout the duration of the season, furthermore, United currently have in-form players such as Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic occupying positions the player who is just 18 years of age can play. But, in my eyes, the forward not being in and around the England squad at current is the wrong decision from the man at the helm of the hallowed Wembley turf, as he is an exceptional talent who can certainly make a difference to what are at the moment bang average England performances, after all, results should come first. His age is not a problem – if you’re good enough, you are old enough, or young enough, for that matter.