Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford seems to be faring much better off the pitch than on it this season, having found himself uncomfortably wedged in between a rock and a hard place amid injuries and the club’s vacillating struggles. All of which have contributed in no small measure to seeing his career stall for the present, but hope is seemingly present and in close proximity now that incoming manager Ralf Rangnick has taken over at the helm to replace Michael Carrick after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the sack.
Although Rashford has been reduced to playing catch-up this season, United’s appointment of Rangnick could immediately arrest the slide and fast-track the forward back to his former brilliant best. Suffice it to say that the boy born and bred in Manchester, and more pertinently United, has been proudly living the United dream ever since he scored his now-legendary brace against Thursday night’s opponents Arsenal on his Premier League debut, which launched him into the Premier League limelight.
Rashford’s Old Trafford double against the Gunners back in 2016 was made only days after the talented teenager scored two on his senior debut in a 5-1 Europa League demolition of Danish side Midtjylland, which immediately introduced him to the footballing world.
Flying out of the blocks, Rashford showed no signs of slowing down, with the United forward firing in more debut goals for his club in both the League Cup and Champions League before England call-ups saw scintillating strikes in his first appearances for both the Under-21s and the senior side. The smashing debut performances just continued to thrill the spectators.
There was clearly no easing up as Rashford continued his meteoric rise, primarily establishing for himself pivotal roles for both club and country in the years since. Then, all of a sudden, he slammed on the brakes as a persistent shoulder injury hampered the second half of last season which required serious surgery, resulting in a spell on the sideline temporarily stalled his career.
With his start to the current season inauspiciously delayed, the 24-year-old came back with a resounding bang against Leicester in mid-October, and despite his strike from the subs bench ultimately being but a consolation, it suggested the United forward has the gut-wrenching determination to make up for lost time. Subsequently two more goals were added to the tally in the eight appearances since as Rashford has shown promising glimmers of his old scintillating self. That notwithstanding, it had been a struggle so far for the forward and the rest of his teammates this season under the recently-sacked Solskjaer.
Inevitably, with United nursing its wounds and failing to find the right formula prior to the Norwegian gaffer’s departure, a number of players have found unwanted attention under scrutiny, with Rashford being no exception.
Former Red Devil Paul Parker even recently questioned the United forward’s inclusion since his return from injury and insisted Rashford doesn’t seem to want to work enough for his team.
“I would play Greenwood in front of Rashford all day long,” Parker told Talk of the Devils. “I’m just thinking why Rashford gets so much game time.
“You’re looking at it and there is nothing coming out of it to be perfectly honest. How does Martial get the game time in Villarreal, I really don’t know. It seems strange.
“Okay, if you have a bad game you have a bad game. But when you see players who don’t want to work hard that is when questions need to be asked and Martial doesn’t want to work hard. Rashford doesn’t want to work hard. He doesn’t really want to.”
Hopefully, all of that should be changing upon Ralf Rangnick’s arrival. With credit to his reputation as a tough-nut, seasoned veteran, he will neither be accepting passengers nor tolerating sluggards, regardless of their status as mere mortals or celebrities.
The highly-experienced German tactician – known even for inspiring the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, just to name a few – is venerated for his modern gegenpressing methods, intense counter-pressure and fast-paced exciting football., which is a system Rashford could thrive in. Right now, the young man needs a consistent run in the team with the support he needs to recapture that confidence of old. Besides also needing immediate, constant guidance from a tactically astute manager.
And it looks like United may have found just the right gaffer in Ralf Rangnick to give Marcus Rashford just what he needs.