Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Rise of Red Devil Rashford.

Manchester United have had a fabulous habit of introducing young raw talent onto the world stage, none more so than the new striking sensation Marcus Rashford.

The youngster from Wythenshawe, Manchester is one player who can hold his head up when he returns home from the Euro 2016 championship.

As the England squad left the home shores to make the very short journey across the Channel to France to embark on their European Championship adventure there was a young man who must have been pinching himself as he looked around him taking in the fact that he was among the elite chosen to represent his country at the highest level.

How the 18-year-old Rashford came to be sitting alongside the likes of United and England teammates Rooney and Smalling is a remarkable achievement in itself and the stuff of dreams.

He was plucked from the relative obscurity of the under 18's due to an injury to Anthony Martial in the match warm up as United prepared to play Midtjylland at Old Trafford in a Europa League tie. What followed that night is exactly why the stadium was given the moniker of The Theatre of Dreams and set the local lad on a journey that doesn't look like ending anytime soon.

Die hard United fans, of course, knew of his immense potential, but many would have been surprised by the way he took his chance with aplomb in a game in which he not only scored a debut double but in doing so cemented his hero status in front of an adoring Stretford End.

The teenager then followed that up with another double against Arsenal in his first Premier League match. A star was born and the confidence he showed in scoring the winning goal in the Manchester Derby was the shining light in a mediocre season for the team under Louis van Gaal.

Rashford ended his first remarkable season as a regular and capped it off with an FA Cup winners medal to boot. He was awarded for his efforts with a training session with the England squad which led to a first international cap against Australia in which it only took him four minutes to score yet another debut goal and in doing so became the youngest England player to score on his international senior debut.

The England manager Roy Hodgson had seen enough and Rashford had booked himself a passage to France. He made his debut at the Euros as a substitute against Wales becoming the youngest England player to play in the Championships beating captain Rooney by four days.

Unfortunately, for Rashford and the nation as a whole he was only called upon one more time and that was for the last five minutes in the shocking defeat to minnows Iceland. In the short time he spent on the pitch he performed considerably better than the other players had in the previous eighty-five minutes.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it is remarkable that Hodgson persevered with Sterling and Sturridge for so long during the tournament when they were clearly not up to the task. There will be many more international campaigns for Rashford in the future and let's hope he has learnt from his experience of being involved in a major championship.

New United manager Jose Mourinho must be licking his lips at the prospect of working with Rashford especially if he can bring in an experienced striker to help fine tune the youngster's undoubted talent.

The future looks bright for Rashford who has been rewarded for his progress at the club with a new improved contract that will keep him where he belongs for the next four years and hopefully beyond.

Many fans will be interested to see how next season will unfold for the teenager who doesn't seem to be short of confidence and approaches the game exactly how it should be by a United player. His ability, awareness, pace and an unnerving eye for goal should ensure that this shining light will not be diminished anytime soon.

If Rashford continues at the same pace he has the capacity to break many more records for both club and country and at his young age could end up making Rooney take a look over his shoulder.

Thanks for reading.

Miles Dunton.