When you ask most football fans what they think of Marcus Rashford at this exact moment in time, I’m sure most would probably bring up his performances at Euro 2016.
Whilst the rest of the England team faltered, the nation screamed through gritted teeth to give the exceptionally gifted youngster more game time. And of course, when he did come onto the pitch, especially against Iceland, he was the only player to emerge from the papers with credit- silencing the England coaches who really should have given him more of a chance to change things.
But turning our attention back to domestic matters, it looks to be a rather exciting season ahead for Manchester United, who boast arguably two of the biggest stars in world football right now: Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As for the latter, he has been brought in from PSG and whilst we know what we’re going to get from one of the games’ most extravagant strikers, how can help others in the side, namely Rashford?
A pretty obvious point is experience. Zlatan has won over 30 domestic championships and cup winner’s medals in a career that has spanned across six different countries over 17 years as a professional. If there is a man to help the youngster develop, it is definitely the Swede, who can boast some of the biggest games’ biggest honours in his achievement lists.
And a point Jose made in his first Manchester United press conference was pretty interesting too, when he cited the ages of both Ibrahimovic and Rashford, suggesting their combined age is perfect for a football player. Whether this means he is looking to play them both on the pitch at once is yet to be seen, but it suggests that we may be seeing them complementing each other with their qualities more often than not.
But one thing all young players, not just Rashford need to harness is that winning mentality. Rashford’s youthful exuberance is delightful to watch from the stands, but it is players like Ibrahimovic who are renowned for being winners. Perhaps Rashford may need an injection of menace or even aggression in his game in order to make it to the top, and there is little doubt he can learn this from his striking partner.
Rashford has started well in United’s warm-up campaign too, which some may forget will be the youngster’s first experience of a senior pre-season schedule. He played the second half against Galatasaray and won a penalty which was duly converted by Wayne Rooney in a game the Red Devils won 5-2.
It may take time to harness this new relationship, but there is little doubt that it could, in time, turn into something very special indeed. Rashford is a player that has been tipped for great things and there is a real optimism that Zlatan will pass on all his knowledge to one of United’s up-and-coming stars.
Exciting times lie ahead.