Marcus Rashford’s Manchester United Resurgence

Life hasn’t always been easy for Manchester United’s star winger Marcus Rashford since he burst onto the scene in a 2016 Europa League clash against FC Midjylland where he bagged a brace at only 18 years of age. After several injuries to key attackers in the squad, than manager Louis Van Gaal had his hand forced to start the teenager in a crucial stretch during the season and it seemed that whenever the teenager touched the pitch he turned every opportunity to gold.

After his first season with the senior squad, he seemed to have the world at his feet and with his combination of immense pace, and a lethal strike it seemed like as time would pass Rashford would grow into one of not only England’s best but one of the best attackers in the world.

Rashford has had his shares of ups; like when he became the youngest goalscorer in England history in May 2016, winning the Europa League in 2017 and scoring the decisive penalty to send Manchester United through to the Champions League Semi-Finals in 2019.

Image Credit: The Mirror

But he would also face his share of downs as well as injuries have been mounting since 2020 and his inability to play meaningful minutes in the Euro 2020 tournament before being asked to come on the field late in injury time in the Final to take one of the decisive penalties which he would end up missing seemed to have taken a massive toll on his physical and mental health, especially after the online racial abuse he suffered as a result.

The past 24 months have been unkind to the Manchester-born forward only registering 15 Premier League goals between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons. Last season under Ole Gunnar Solkjær and than Ralf Rangnick was by far his most miserable campaign only netting four times in the league and eight times in all competitions.

Under the new regime of Erik Ten Hag’s disciplined and possession based football Marcus Rashford has looked like the blossoming superstar like he once did in his early career. The 25 year old has looked completely rejuvenated, but even still this season it took a little but of time for him and rest of the squad to get their footing on the season.

Massive goals against Liverpool and a brace against league leaders Arsenal have been massive in the upwards form that Manchester United are carrying into the new year, but his numbers have looked pretty pedestrian until you look at his form since the Qatar World Cup. Heading into the tournament one could’ve questioned Gareth Southgate’s choice to take the forward at this tournament and if it was held during the summer months instead of the winter months, that criticism would be well warranted.

What Rashford did at the tournament, however, was shut his critics up.

Three goals in five appearances at the tournament (and a potentially baffling decision to leave him on the bench until the 85th minute in the quarter-finals) and Rashford has breathed new life into his stagnating career.

Rashford has now marked the end of his 2022 and start of 2023 in blistering form with goals in five consecutive matches back on English shores and also putting on dazzling displays in the process, Rashford has looked unbeatable on the ball in recent weeks.

It must also be noted that one of the biggest dark clouds hanging over Ten Hag’s squad this season so far was the seasoned presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, and while his outbursts on the pitch and off the pitch caught quite a bit of attention, it was his interview with the controversial journalist Piers Morgan that caught him the most criticism, especially releasing just a couple days before the start of the Qatar World Cup.

Ronaldo got his wish as he was able to be released from his contract with the club and decided to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Nasser as a free agent, where he will undoubtedly most likely spend the remainder of his playing career in.

It seems that whatever energy Ronaldo brought to Manchester United this season it has now turned into one of positivity and for the first time in a very long time…. Hope.

With over halfway of the season gone, these next few months will be integral to determine what legacy Erik Ten Hag will leave in Manchester, and he will need to make sure that his players are up to the task to continue fighting for the club until the end of the season, and one of the most crucial parts of that team will be Marcus Rashford.

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