One could argue that it was destiny for Marcus Rashford to break into the United team, having been given his debut only because of an injury to Anthony Martial, but truthfully it would have only been a matter of time before Rashford would rise to prominence considering his immense talent.
On that fateful day in Denmark, Martial pulled up with an injury during the warm-up for a 2nd leg Europa League tie against Midtjylland, and with United being short of strikers at the time, the stars aligned for Marcus Rashford to be handed his debut by Louis van Gaal. The rest is history.
Rashford went on to bag a double against the Danish minnows, as United ran out 5-1 winners. Rashford became the youngest ever Manchester United player to score in European competition at the age of 18. What followed were a series of dazzling displays and goals which show no sign of letting up. Rashford’s performance in Denmark earned him a start against Arsenal just three days later where he scored another brace and assisted a goal on his Premier League debut to help United win 3-2 at Old Trafford. Rashford ended the season scoring 8 goals in 18 appearances
Such was Rashford’s impact for United, he earned himself a call up to the national squad for the Euro 2016 competition having played only 4 months of first team football. On 16 May, Rashford was named in Roy Hodgson’s preliminary 26-man squad for the tournament, and he was to score on yet another debut, this time for England in a warm-up match against Australia after just 3 minutes.
And the fairy tale continues for Rashford into the current season as he netted a last minute winner in the Reds’ hard fought win over Hull City. After being brought on in the 71st minute, Rashford provided a boost of pace down the flank against a tired Hull team. His efforts would eventually pay dividends with him tapping into the net after some clever play from Rooney.
United newcomer Zlatan Ibrahimovic recognizes Rashford’s talent, but urges patience in his development to ensure he is not put under too much pressure at such an early stage of his career.
“First of all, he’s 18, he’s still young. He has a lot of time,” Ibrahimovic told MUTV. “I think the way you have to approach a player like that, where everyone is talking about the talent and what he’s able to do and what kind of potential he has, is to remember he still has a lot of time.
“It’s not like he needs to take over the world today, the club knows that, the coach knows that and the team knows that.
“We know his quality and what he’s able to do. What the world is seeing now, we already know because we see it every day. There is no need to rush to push him and put him in the heat zone and put a lot of pressure on him because that can have the opposite effect. Time by time, he will take over everything. It’s about having patience.”
It’s quite astonishing to think in the space of less than a year, Rashford has gone from a relatively unknown to being one of the most talked about young talents of his generation. His development in such a small space of time has been remarkable, with him already displaying many characteristics of a top striker at such a young age. But perhaps what’s more worrying for the opposition is that he shows no signs of slowing down.
United fans may look back at the Louis Van Gaal era with displeasure, but one thing they can be thankful to Louis for is for promoting youngster Marcus Rashford.