Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy is seriously impressed with Marcus Rashford’s rapid rise to the first team. Rashford made his debut against FC Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League in 2016 under the management of Louis van Gaal and has since gone from strength to strength, playing for England at Euro 2016, and scoring crucial goals in some of United’s key moments last season. This was highlighted in the 53 appearances he made for Jose Mourinho’s side last season and established himself as a key part of the way United set up.
United great Van Nistelrooy recalls to the official Manchester United website his first time seeing Rashford and the impression he has made on the prolific Dutchman;
“I watched him playing in the Under-19s against PSV. He was a huge talent even then. It’s amazing how he has developed so far. I couldn’t imagine that he would be playing in the first team just six months after I saw that game.
“And now he has won the Europa League, too! He has experienced such a quick development and that says something about his ability to learn. That’s a good characteristic to have.”
What a journey Rashford has had so far – and he’s only 19. He has all the characteristics to be a top player in my opinion, and he looks naturally gifted which obviously helps!
As mentioned previously, Rashford’s rise led him to making his England debut and eventually representing his country at the European Championships in 2016. Van Nistelrooy recognises the importance of staying focused on the football and not letting the accolades and praise go to his head;
“Now he’s made his debut for England, the key is to stay focused on football. If you can learn as quickly as he has and stay stable, then he will be an excellent player for United.”
I agree with the Dutchman. It’s important that Rashford is eager to learn and keep developing, which I think he does. He seems to be the type of player to always want to improve. I think many United fans feared he would maybe go down the route of Adnan Januzaj, who clearly has talent but let the plaudits go to his head, and though he’d already made it. That’s why Januzaj has been sold to Real Sociedad for around £9 million and Rashford is battling for a place in the first team.
I think Rashford’s versatility to play on the wing has helped his cause. I still think he’s a striker in the long-term because he has that natural ability of when to make a run, and reads the game very well, and in my opinion, you can’t coach that skill.
However, even on the wing, he gets you off your seat. There’s an air of expectation almost when he gets the ball because you feel as though something is going to happen, or he’ll create a chance. When Anthony Martial and Rashford start playing together and linking up, then I think we’re in for a real treat.
Rashford’s performance in United’s opening game of the season against West Ham, certainly shown us United fans of the talent he has – I thought he was brilliant. I think he’ll get his chances up front this season too when the fixtures start coming thick-and-fast. I’m excited by the future of Rashford and how good would it be if he went on to get the legendary number seven shirt and go down as a United great after coming through the academy? Either way, I hope he’s at United for a long time.