It was a Thursday European night at Old Trafford in the Europa Cup, February 25th 2016 that the world outside of Old Trafford and Carrington was introduced to Marcus Rashford.
Marcus Rashford is a number 9. A centre-forward. He is blinding quick, has very good feet and also has the height to compete favourably in the air against any centre-back in the world. This season and last he has had to play most of his matches as a wide forward under Jose Mourinho.
In a stats obsessed world that football and sports has become I believe strongly that with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez at Old Trafford in tandem with the twin presences of Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the young English man needs to leave Manchester United if he is going to flourish in the role of a striker he is undoubtedly gifted for.
Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United were trying to recover from a humiliating first leg defeat to FC Midtjylland on that night in 2016. I caught at the back of the presenters the sight of Anthony Martial being led away by a physio during the early pre game warm up of the players. I remember thinking that is not a good sign as I had seen same happen many years ago with Louis Saha being led away before a league game against Wigan.
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Sure enough, news came through that Martial has been pulled out of the team with Rashford going to start in his place. The biggest irony of this is that Rashford only made the bench because Will Keane who had made the bench in the first leg was injured.
History records that Rashford with no fear at all, scored two goals to help United win 5-1 on the night and go through to the next round. The young man went on to score twice against Arsenal and the winner in the Manchester derby at the Etihad. He followed it up with a goal on his England debut and was in the Euro 2016 squad.
The current mob of Manchester United fans are hungry for instant success as is the manager, they have no time to nurture any young player. Mourinho has no time nor patience to build dynasties at any football club he manages he just wants to win trophies and that will be that. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Rashford does not have the skills and trickery of the likes of Martial and Kylian Mbappe – the dazzling French forward that he is ridiculously compared to – which means that playing the wide role can’t suit him to a T. What I believe he has is a directness, a powerful burst of speed and technique to play the striker role. He is much better than Lukaku technically.
Speaking of Lukaku, had the Belgian remained at Chelsea – where he arrived as a teenager – instead of going to West Brom and later to Everton he would never have fulfilled his potential enough to be the £75m striker now at United. If Paul Pogba had not gotten fed up of being denied roles at United and thereby moving on to Juventus I doubt he would have returned to Old Trafford for a then world record fee.
Gerard Pique is one of the best defenders in the world and has been for nearly a decade. However, at Old Trafford he was well behind Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea, Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic for a central defence role and good run. He first went on loan to Zaragoza in Spain, returned to Old Trafford before rejoining Barcelona. The rest is history.
It can be a wrench for a youth team player at a club like United to want to leave the club. I have read many of the players say that they perhaps stayed too long. It will require major injuries for Rashford to play as a number 9 for United this season and even next.
As United fan, I would love him to be United’s first choice striker but the manager does not see him as that. However, as a footballer who I believe can go on to great things I really think for the sake of his career he needs to be selfish and leave United in the summer at the very latest.
Rashford has NOTHING to gain by playing in wide roles. He will be 21 in October he needs to be playing as centre-forward regularly. He should not even go on loan. Cut ties, take a pay cut even, join Everton, Leicester City or other clubs just outside the top 6, rack up goals stats and wait for a big money move back to a top club. Who knows, go replace Harry Kane when he leaves Spurs; just leave and go play as a striker more regularly.
United fans what do you think? Share your thoughts here please. You can also follow me on twitter @CalvinEmeka
Thank you for reading.