Marcus Rashford received the first sending off of his career when Manchester United beat Burnley last time out. As for the incident itself, whether or not it was deserving of the dismissal it resulted in is certainly debatable. However, Rashford was shown red and went for his early bath.
The incident has put the spotlight back onto the 20-year-old and questions are being asked about the progress he is – or rather, isn’t – currently making. The sending off aside, Rashford has not been at his blistering best for a while now.
At his age it is perfectly normal for a player’s development to dip, plateau or stutter. Consistency comes with experience, after all. For a player of only 20, Rashford is remarkably experienced at the highest level, yet he is still a very young, raw player, which given how long he has been a regular for the Red Devils is easy to forget.
There is an argument that the United boss, Jose Mourinho, may also be responsible for Rashford’s recent struggles. The Portuguese manager certainly plays a less expansive, free-flowing style of game to that which may best suit the England international. Equally, the fact that Rashford is often forced out wide to allow for the inclusion of Romelu Lukaku, rather than being able to consistently take up his favoured central berth, is also cited as a reason for his inconsistent performance levels.
The consensus seems to be that regular starts in his best position for a less negative team is what’s needed to get Rashford back to his best. On the one hand, that may be true. However, given how things presently are at Old Trafford, if Rashford were to get that kind of experience he would have to leave the club on loan. That would not be a good idea.
Assuming that United would even sanction Rashford’s exit, even on a temporary basis, the move would likely put a dent into his United aspirations. He is not the only one fighting for supremacy at his current club, and stepping aside would simply be giving the likes of Anthony Martial a clearer run to the first team.
Even if Rashford were to go on loan and perform well, out of sight really is out of mind. Mourinho is the man he must impress, and he can only do so by performing well in training and when he gets his match opportunities in front of the boss.
Over the course of a season, with injuries, suspensions, losses of form etc., Rashford would almost certainly get his chances to make his mark. He must be at Old Trafford in the first place to do so though. He will get his opportunities at United this season, he just needs to be ready to take them.
What’s more, Rashford is hardly a player being starved of first team football as it is. In the last two full seasons – as a teenager – Rashford has made over fifty appearances for United in all competitions in each campaign. Last time out he made 35 outings in the Premier League alone, 17 of which were starts.
At 20, the striker with 25 senior England caps already to his name does not need to be starting week in week out. He does, though, need to be playing at the highest level he can, in the best team he can be a part of, and learning as much as possible. Those are not requirements that can be met by a loan move.
Rashford was right to remain at Old Trafford this season and fight for his place in the team. Now he must focus on taking whatever chances he gets.