Amid injuries and Manchester United’s struggles, Marcus Rashford has seen his career stall, but incoming manager Ralf Rangnick could be the man get him back on track
The United boy born and raised has lived the dream ever since his brace against Thursday night’s opponents Arsenal on his Premier League debut saw him burst on to the scene and very much into the limelight.
His Old Trafford double against the Gunners back in 2016 came only days after the teenager scored two on his senior debut in a 5-1 Europa League demolition of Danish side Midtjylland and announced himself to the footballing world.
Rashford simply flew out of the blocks and he showed no signs of slowing down.
The United forward fired in further debut goals for his beloved club in both the League Cup and Champions League before England call-ups saw strikes in his first appearances for both the Under-21s and the senior side. The debut delight just kept on coming.
There looked to be no letting up as Rashford continued his rise, establishing himself as a pivotal figure for both club and country in the years since. But then he hit the brakes.
A persistent shoulder injury which hampered the second half of last season meant surgery, a spell on the sideline and the stalling of his sparkling career.
Having seen his start to this season delayed, the 24-year-old returned with a bang against Leicester in mid-October, and though his strike from the subs bench ultimately proved a consolation, it suggested the United forward was determined to make up for lost time.
Two more goals have followed in the eight appearances since as Rashford has shown glimmers of that old promise, but alongside the rest of his United teammates, it’s been a struggle so far this season under Solskjaer.
With United wounded and having failed to find the right formula, a number of players have found themselves in the firing line, and Rashford has been no exception.
Former Red Devil Paul Parker recently questioned the United forward’s inclusion since his return from injury and insisted Rashford doesn’t want to work enough for his team.
“I would play Greenwood in front of Rashford all day long,” Parker told Talk of the Devils. “I’m just thinking why Rashford gets so much game time.
“You’re looking at it and there is nothing coming out of it to be perfectly honest. How does Martial get the game time in Villarreal, I really don’t know. It seems strange.
“Okay, if you have a bad game you have a bad game. But when you see players who don’t want to work hard that is when questions need to be asked and Martial doesn’t want to work hard. Rashford doesn’t want to work hard. He doesn’t really want to.”
But that’s all set to change. Ralf Rangnick has arrived, and though he won’t be in the Old Trafford dugout on Thursday, his influence is imminent. He won’t accept passengers.
The experienced German is famed for his modern pressing methods, intense counter-pressure and fast-paced exciting football. It’s a system Rashford could thrive in.
Right now, he need needs a consistent run in the team. He needs to recapture that confidence of old. And he needs guidance from a tactically astute manager.
And in Ralf Rangnick, United may have found the man to give Marcus Rashford just that.