In just his third game for the club, Manchester Uniteds young goalscoring headliner Marcus Rashford will once again have eyes on him – all 75,000 – against Watford tonight, enjoying what must be the most surreal period of his life.
Some were unconvinced of the 17 year olds talent after his debut brace came against what most would respectfully regard as a ‘minnow’ team. A 5-1 victory over Midtjylland in which he scored 2 poachers efforts had people maintain a dubious opinon as to whether he could cut it amongst the Premier Leagues elite.
Then Arsenal came to town. A full blooded rivalry burning since before young Rashford was born, he was expected to be shut down by the Arsenal back four that posed one of the toughest defences, reputedly and statistically, in the division. Completely undeterred, he bagged another brace, and rounded it off with an assist for Ander Herrera’s game clinching third goal as the three points stayed in the North-West.
NOW people are talking. So many possibilities of the extent of his potential have been thrown out. “England squad” here, “New van Nistelrooy” there, after an instinctive snapshot from ten yards for his first was quickly followed by excellent positioning to bury Guillermo Varela’s cross from the right. The performances indicate a natural ability to be in the right place at the right time, a trait United have longer for since the departure of Dutchman van Nistelrooy in 2006.
Not only that, he is fearless in much the same way Wayne Rooney was. He is eager to get involved, and mixes up drawing out of the box and demanding the ball with waiting for the ball to come to him – as his goals will testify to. More than one occasion has seen him draw the defence out of position, looking to find possession on the wings. Such a tactic led to Ander Herrera finding time and space to set himself and score from 25 yards. Even if he doesn’t receive the ball, it allowed Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard to exploit the gap he leaves.
He brings a different sort of dynamic to the slower, less flared character of Rooney. It is an instinct and a decisiveness that has come naturally. An eagerness to please without allowing the reality of where he is to affect him. Not only is it refreshing, it is wholeheartedly valuable for United’s withering, often inconsistent front line.
There is a lot of expectation on the shoulders of a young man who, up until a week ago, had been virtually unheard of by many fans. That is the return for 4 goals in your first 2 games. Whether Rashford lives up to them, only time will tell. But right now, he’s not doing too badly at all.