I think we all fondly remember the moment Marcus Rashford announced himself to the world, not only is it the standard opening paragraph in articles about him but it’s also one of the few times since Sir Alex Ferguson left that real excitement has flowed through the fanbase.
The kid had it all in front of him, and everyone firmly believed he had the potential to hit the heights. But potential is a funny thing, completely immeasurable and yet the stick by which we judge young players, and Rashford is in danger of falling very short of his mark.
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It is a growing opinion amongst fans, but also now ex-professionals as Shaun Wright-Phillips spoke to 888sport about the United youngster and the parallels between him and Raheem Sterling. Speaking in the interview, Wright-Phillips says: “I think of Raheem Sterling as an amazing player whereas I think of Rashford as being very good. With what Raheem brings to the team right now I don’t think Rashford can.
“For a player of Rashford’s quality I feel like he should score more goals and I think Pep has taught Raheem how to do that. He always seems to be in the right place for the cut-backs and crosses: he has learnt to read the game so much better.”
I suppose we can bat this off as irrelevant prattle, he is an ex-City player talking about a current one, but it would be tough to ignore the crux of what is being said, and harsh to lay all blame at the feet of Rashford.
The two players can be compared quite easily; both English, both young, both attacking, both had doubts over their ability, but the difference that is so stark is the influence of their manager. Pep Guardiola took an underperforming Raheem Sterling and turned him into a force to be reckoned with, Jose Mourinho failed to do that with Rashford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed it for 2 months and then nothing. It leads nicely into problem number 2.
It seemed, in the beginning, that Marcus Rashford was very grounded. It was talked about a lot in the press by journalists and teammates alike, the sudden fame and attention hadn’t affected him in the slightest – things were going his way after all – and he was taking it in his stride. And then form dipped, he wasn’t played in his favourite position and when he did he was very underwhelming. As time has dragged on, Rashford has looked less and less happy in himself, he hasn’t busted a gut as regularly as he once did and seems to be regressing quicker than he is progressing. In 2 short years, he has propelled himself from ‘the next Ronaldo’ to ‘Danny Welbeck in the waiting’.
This isn’t to say it cannot be turned around. Sterling (as the comparison) looked a distant memory, a flop of the highest order as his form was worse than patchy and he couldn’t hit the proverbial cow’s arse until a manager came along and put his arm around him. Rashford is in that stage now, Solskjaer showed his own ability to get the best from him however he did it, and this is crucial if Rashford is going to prove himself as the quality player we know he could be. A summer off, a club legend at the helm and some of the best advice he could wish for should be enough to propel Rashford and if it doesn’t, well, Danny Welbeck has still managed a career of sorts.