Before making his breakthrough debut against Midtjyllandin the Europa League back in February nobody outside the United dressing room and his family knew a single thing about Marcus Rashford. It now stands to reason that he is arguably the greatest product of the Manchester United academy in years and probably a new addition to England’s squadron of promising teenagers alongside Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli, Everton’s John Stones, Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.
He has been in the limelight for little over three months now but has already managed to put a lot of his teammates’ and compatriots’ statistics in the shade with a remarkable 8-goal exploit across all competitions for club and country.
Marcus Rashford as alternative for injured Anthony Martial
Of interest is that his inclusion in the Europa League match against Midtjylland wasn’t really by design as many people may have thought, but rather as a desperate move to find a replacement for the injured Anthony Martial. He literally learnt he was going to play minutes before kickoff but against all odds managed to put two fine second half strikes into the back of the net to overturn the aggregate score into United’s favor.
While last season’s exploits may have paid off with a deserved call-up into the national team for the Euro 2016, many people still don’t know who Marcus Rashford is and how exactly he made it into the first team dressing room.
Marcus Rashford’s Background
Born in October 1, 1997 in Wythenshawe, Manchester, Marcus Rashford is one of the many England stars who owe their early careers to the world-famous junior football academy, Fletcher Moss Rangers. He joined the school back in 2003, and four years later, just like they did with Danny Welbeck, Manchester United noticed him and made him their own at the tender age of 9. The rest, as they say, is history.
The forward, who has a sister and four brothers, still lives with his mum, Mel, in Manchester in what can be securely be termed as modest housing. He slowly saw his talent pick up and improve by day as the two Manchester rivals kept tabs on him and in several occasions tried to win him over even as a kid. He might actually have ended up at the blue side of the city had Rene Meulensteen not coaxed him into committing to United. As a schoolboy forward, he was innocently connected to both clubs and trained with each of them occasionally until he finally decided to join the Red Devils.
According to his first coach at Fletcher Moss Juniors, David Horrocks, Marcus Rashford found Manchester United more compelling due to the training programme introduced by the then youth coach Meulensteen, who later became Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant. Meulensteen’s art was inspired by the revered Coerver technique in which ball mastery was considered paramount.
“Like most obvious talents,” Horrocks recalled, “Marcus wasn’t scouted by just one club. He joined the Moss Side development center at Manchester United and City were aware he was doing well, so they also invited him to train at their Platt Lane academy which is not far from his home in Fallowfield”
“Manchester City offered him the chance to play in their academy and promised to build their junior team around him,” he added, “Manchester United were worried at the possibility of losing him to City because City had the geographic advantage. So they called to ask me if I could drive him to their training ground at The Cliff one Sunday.” And that’s how Marcus Rashford was officially turned red.
”United’s programme was focused on developing individual talent, and this suited Marcus Rashford down to the ground as he was allowed to get the ball and hold it instead of just pass-pass-pass,” added Horrocks.
Marcus Rashford’s exceptional talent, according to Horrocks, had been obvious since the day he joined Fletcher Moss at the young age of five. His elder brother Dwain was already a member of the academy, so settling in was not a problem at all for little Marcus.
By the time he turned seven, both Manchester City and Manchester United were strongly interested and he would alternate training sessions with the Citizens at Platt Lane and the Red Devils at Moss Side. His mother had moved from a South Manchester estate to a new home in Fallowfield, which was in the vicinity of Manchester City’s HQ.
Comparisons with Welbeck
Marcus Rashford has been compared to Welbeck in more than one occasion and this is obvious as both of them spent the early stages of their career at Fletcher Moss before joining the United academy.
Welbeck was sold to Arsenal back in the summer of 2014 for an £18 million fee and is now an established member of the England National team, but Horrocks tips Marcus Rashford to surpass Arsenal star’s achievements.
“Marcus is faster than Danny ever was” he said, “Danny would let the ball find him, Marcus goes for it. His mentality to training is the same as that of David Beckham and Eric Cantona. I personally see him as a center forward; he has tremendous shoulders and has the ideal physique of an athlete.”
“He is resilient” he added, “He wasn’t bothered when he cracked his face on Thursday night. He got right back up and continued with the game. We’re really proud of Danny’s achievements but I believe Marcus will go on to do even better.”
His style of play
With a powerful shot for a kid of his age and some tremendous pace, Marcus Rashford can play in just about any role in the attack: either as a winger, a number ten or an out and out striker. For the Manchester United senior side he has been deployed as a striker in 11 league matches of the just finished season, in which he bagged a total of 5 goals.
But that’s not to say the newly-capped Englishman was raised only as a striker though. He used to be play behind the central striker and sometimes in the wide forward position for the Under-18 side when first choice centre-forward Demetri Mitchell suffered an injury.
Thanks to this Marcus Rashford got called-up as a makeshift replacement. He impressed in his first game as a striker against Leicester City as a number 9, and has since then grown to become the undisputed option for the position.
When he scored the vital brace against Midtjylland back in February, it made him the youngest ever player to score for Manchester United in a European competition. And as if that was not enough of a statement, he scored two more against United’s archrivals Arsenal in the Premier League to raise his tally to four in just three days.
Out of nowhere he became the most talked about young footballer in England, and arguably the world – keeping in mind he’s playing for the world’s most popular club.
With the two goals against Arsenal, he became the joint-third youngest player behind Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck to score in a Premier League game. Rooney was the same age as Marcus Rashford in his game against Arsenal, when he also scored his first brace.
During his international debut against Australia days before the Euro, he scored one of the Three Lion’s only two goals of the game in the third minute to make him the youngest ever England debutant to find the back of the net.
He was only 18 years and 208 days old, and in the process broke a 78-year old record held by Tommy Lawton who scored against wales aged 19 back in 1938.
The goal also sees him join an elite group of England players, such as Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, in the overall youngest-scorer record. Owen scored his first goal for the national team at the age of 18 years and 164 days against Morocco in 1998, while Rooney got his in 2003 against Macedonia aged 17 years 317 days.
In the Manchester derby back in March 20, he scored the only goal of the game to not only leave City ruing the missed chance to sign him as a kid but also end their slim title hopes. He is now the youngest ever scorer in the Manchester derby, a record previously held by Manchester United-legend and one of the best players ever to have set foot on a pitch: George Best.
What the future holds for Marcus Rashford
With the man who brought him into the senior side, Louis van Gaal, getting the sack recently, and a stricter bloke in Jose Mourinho taking the helm at Old Trafford, Marcus Rashford should brace himself for anything.
Age is just a number for the Special One and being an 18-year-old sensation can’t earn you a place in the starting XI if you can’t beat the stats of a 34-year-old who’s also in the team.
And talking of 34-year-olds, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is only a signature away from joining the Red Devils, which should be a clear sign that the English teenager has to be at his best level to earn a place upfront.
In the England national team also, there are more than enough tested and tried options for the attacking role, and anyone, including Marcus Rashford, can be deemed surplus to requirements at the slightest hint of a slump. The likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and the injury prone Daniel Sturridge have all shown to be up to the task, and only time will tell if the United forward will be able to join and even surpass them as the undisputed king upfront.
Marcus Rashford’s 8 goals this season for Manchester United