According to England manager Gareth Southgate, Manchester United young phenom Marcus Rashford is progressing in his development at a rate that outpaces former United starlet Cristiano Ronaldo and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane when they were the same age. Rashford bagged a goal in each of England’s matches during the recent international break, prompting praise from the manager.
When asked about Rashford’s potential and whether he is a “special talent,” Southgate said, “Yes he is. I think Harry at that age had hardly played anywhere near the matches for Spurs. Some of the stepovers and things Ronaldo was doing at that age, he wasn’t converting them into the number of goals, so we have got to give him time to develop.”
The odds aren’t particularly favorable for Manchester United this season when it comes to UEFA Champions League betting. The Red Devils are listed at just +1400 to win the tournament, but perhaps an improved performance out of Rashford moving forward will give Jose Mourinho’s side better chances of competing for major trophies. The talent is evident, but the results haven’t consistently been there for the young player.
Rashford, who won’t turn 21 until the last day of October, burst onto the scene by making his senior debut for Manchester United as a 17-year-old back in 2015. Since then, he has scored 17 goals in 81 appearances for the Red Devils. Shortly after breaking through with United, Rashford earned his first senior cap with the England men’s national team the next year.
Southgate added, “He has still played a lot of football, although maybe not the continuous starts and I’m really pleased for him that he leaves here full of confidence.”
The two goals Rashford scored during the international break were his first two tallies of the new season. The youngster scored the Three Lions’ lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Spain in the UEFA Nations League, and he scored the lone goal in a 1-0 friendly victory over Switzerland. However, he has found the back of the net just once in his last 13 appearances in the Premier League for United.
Rashford’s place in the starting XI has never been fully secure since Jose Mourinho took over at the club a couple of years ago, but the lack of regular playing time has not done much to hamper his standing with the national team. Despite the fact that his regular role is inconsistent, Southgate insists that Mourinho is, indeed, a “huge admirer” of Rashford’s.
Southgate said, “It’s not my business to interfere with club managers, they have a difficult job to do and they have big squads at the top six, huge competition for places, so Jose thinks the world of Marcus. He’s a huge admirer of him, but he’s got his job to do.”
Rashford picked up a red card against Burnley in United’s most recent league fixture, which means he will serve the first of his three-match ban when the Red Devils return from the international break against Watford. Obviously, being forced to miss the next three games will put a dent into Rashford’s hopes at fully winning Mourinho over. Rashford played a crucial role in England’s run to the semifinals at this summer’s World Cup in Russia, where he played in six matches.
Southgate added, “He’s got huge competition for places at his club, so you can understand that frustration. For me, I was delighted because we really wanted to make him feel important over this period anyway. He would have been a bit disappointed about the amount of time he had at the World Cup, but it was important especially to get him in the penalty box and remembering the areas he needs to be scoring goals from, and so his confidence will be boosted I’m sure. Two goals against top-quality opposition in both games.”
In addition to the Watford match, Rashford will also miss league fixtures against Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United before he is eligible to return early next month for the game against Newcastle. Rashford will be eligible for Champions League selection, however, so he may well play a role in United’s Champions League clashes against Young Boys and Valencia before he returns to Premier League action.