Marcus Rashford came out of relative obscurity last season to score two goals against Midtjylland in the second leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie, and his season continued to get better from that point, culminating in impressive displays for England in France.
The question is can he continue his upward rise? He certainly has the potential to do that, but many players before him have failed to deliver on their initial promise.
However, it does seem unlikely that Rashford will fail to improve because he has the right mental attitude which is key for someone his age, and he has the chance nationally and domestically to continue his progression.
During the pre-season, Rashford has featured in the majority of the matches, so he is definitely in Mourinho’s plans for the new season, but it would have been unwise to think against that viewpoint anyway.
Pre-season isn’t always the best indication for how a manager is going to set up a team for the upcoming season, so Rashford’s use as a substitute so far doesn’t necessarily mean anything. However it does possibly indicate that Mourinho currently sees him as an impact sub who’s very direct and therefore will cause problems for the opposition.
Much has been said of Mourinho’s supposedly poor record with youth at his previous clubs, but he has proved multiple times that he is willing to ‘blood’ young players if he believes they are good enough such as Mario Balotelli at Inter Milan and Alvaro Morata at Real Madrid.
Mourinho has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout his managerial career, and he set up the team in the same way for the Community Shield match against Leicester City.
With Rashford currently playing in a winger role, rather than a striker which he was occasionally played in by Louis van Gaal, there is plenty of competition in this role. On the left wing, Rashford is in direct contention with Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay for a starting berth, and currently seems to be second behind Martial.
Therefore it seems likely that he will be used as a substitute for the early stages of the season, but this could be the perfect role for him as he continues his progression, because it allows him to influence matches in the key stages and enables him to use his pace and finishing against tired opponents. At the same time it reduces the chance of him getting fatigued which is common in talented young England players who are often overused by Premier League teams.
Rashford is playing under one of the managerial greats who is likely to be staying there for a long time, so if he is wise enough to listen to his advice and follow his guidance then he can really improve in the next few years which is a key stage in developing players.
Not only has he got an experienced manager to learn from, but he also has world-class players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney to learn from who have won the majority of major trophies between them, so they can give him tips to increase his football knowledge and improve his technique.
Even though there has been a change of manager with Sam Allardyce coming in to replace Roy Hodgson, Rashford still looks like a prominent aspect of England’s future due to him being one of the few players that came out of the Euros with a positive increase in his reputation.
Rashford gives many options to the team because of his pace and supreme dribbling ability which allows England to play on the counter-attack as well as being more direct which could be combined together if needed.
He also brings quality to the wings which was obviously lacking during the Euros due to the poor crosses which were common during the tournament, and he has the ability to play in a high pressing team due to his positional knowledge as well as his previously mentioned pace. On top of this he is also a quality finisher which is useful for any team, and makes England deadlier due to the increased attacking threat.
As the previous paragraph shows, his abilities bring a tactical flexibility to the team which will suit Allardyce’s pragmatic style which often leads to him adapting to the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses. Therefore he has the opportunity to prove himself on a national stage under Big Sam’s guidance, but it just depends on whether he can continue to deliver.
If Rashford continues to work hard in training and matches which seems likely based on his current attitude, and if he doesn’t get too affected by not being a starter then he can continue to improve throughout the season, and he gets to experience playing against tough defences in the Premier League as well as in Europe.
It also looks likely that he will feature for England due to his directness and ability to beat a man which Big Sam will favour, so he stands a good chance of getting in to England’s World Cup squad as it currently stands. Rashford looks likely to be a fan favourite as well as a star player in England’s youthful squad which will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment in Euros.
Hopefully we will see more of this in the upcoming season…
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