Player Zone: The shackles have finally been taken off Marcus Rashford, and long may it continue

Since making his debut in incredible fashion back in February 2015, Marcus Rashford has emerged as one of Manchester United and England’s key men in attack. The Red Devils’ academy graduate burst onto the scene with two goals on his senior debut for the club against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League under Louis van Gaal – Rashford was famously only included after Anthony Martial suffered an injury in the warm up.

147 appearances and 39 goals later and Rashford is only just beginning to fulfil his enormous potential, but the upturn in his performances has been notably better since the sacking of Jose Mourinho. From the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season to the date of the Portuguese manager’s departure, the 21-year-old hit just three goals in 14 appearances.

In stark comparison, Rashford doubled his season tally in just four games under the more attack-minded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, taking his league total to six – it is also worth noting his tally of six assists, showing that he isn’t just a goalscorer.

Before Solskjaer got involved, England’s youngest ever player to score on his debut has only played under managers who focus on a more defensive style of football in Louis van Gaal and Mourinho, which has seen his immense talents stifled somewhat – imagine where he would be now if he had been playing under Mauricio Pochettino, for example.

Speaking of Pochettino, the current Tottenham boss is said to be the only name on United’s shortlist to permanently succeed Mourinho at Old Trafford, with the 20-time Premier League champions willing to pay a world-record fee to get their man.

Marcus Rashford celebrates for Man United

If they do manage to secure the Argentine, it would signal a huge moment in Rashford’s career. The shackles would finally be off. Solskjaer has reiterated the significance of playing the Manchester-born striker in a central role, and has even reportedly told £75m man Romelu Lukaku that he should expect to be second choice behind Rashford – the interim boss’ preferred 4-3-3 system only allows for one central frontman, with two wingers either side.

If Solskjaer is to be given the job on a full-time basis – which isn’t too far fetched given his 100% start from his first five games in the United hotseat – or if Pochettino ditches the new White Hart Lane for Old Trafford, one thing is for certain: Rashford has escaped the clutches of the pessimistic playing style for the foreseeable future, and United and England will reap the benefits of a world-beater for years to come.