Louis Van Gaal and his band of followers will forever be divided in terms of opinions on the various issues surrounding the club – from the formation to style of play to the selection of the first eleven. However, one cannot but appreciate the consistency on which the current gaffer has maintained the tradition of introducing the youth to this MUFC squad. Perhaps, out of necessity, regardless of the situation, the legendary club has unfailingly produced some very impressive academy products. This could be one of the many reasons which has helped the Dutchman hold on to the most coveted job in club football after an unexpected dip in form this season. This tradition has provided LVG with a complete new set of recognition, from loyalists and critics alike.
At first, it was the unknown of the French Forward Anthony Martial who amazed many with his ability to bring in the goals when the rest of the squad could not. Then we saw the rise of the 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, a makeshift striker after starting off with a midfielder during his (ironically) younger days, who scored a brace on his senior debut eliminating Danish side FC Midtjylland from the Europa League. A week later, Rashford scored two more on his league debut against an Arsenal team who tend to break down teams systematically. A few, remain cautious especially when he witnessed United being manhandled by West Brom, as they are reminded of the Italian Frederico Macheda who, a few years ago burst into the United fold, only to be struggling to get any playing time at Championship side – Cardiff City at the moment. Frederico recently blamed his demise on the advice of Sir Alex Ferguson. The advice to move to Sampdoria on a loan.
“I don’t know why I went to Italy. It was the worst mistake of my career. I should have stayed in England.” – Macheda.
Many have suggested that the two cannot be compared. And to a certain extent – they are right. The two are different type of players in their own right, yet the critics have raised a few questions. Primarily, Rashford’s age and the fact that quite a few teen wonders are no-where to be seen in present times. Hence, ideally it would make sense for the media to under-hype the lad and simultaneously, club play its part in doing the same.
The United academy has produced some exciting prospects in recent times but all credit goes to Didsbury based junior football club – Fletcher Moss Rangers. Few names tied with FMR include spring up include Welbeck, Blackett, Mcnair, and Borthwick. Having joined them at a tender age of 6, Rashford has played a significant role at each level during his tenure throughout his time at the academy. His potential did not go unnoticed as neighbors Manchester City, Everton and Liverpool tried to bring him to their respective clubs, with City trying twice. However, Rashford chose the Reds in 2014.
Fast forward, of course, he scores four in two games. WAIT!!! 4 in first two. Wait, couple of those against Arsenal. Surely, this is exciting considering the stats involved which only suggest that Rashford is here to stay. One can clearly see the young energy and determination he brings to the game.
Though it is a little too early in the game to predict Rashford’s path to success, these early years tend to be the most crucial of them to any player – the make or break situation. The Manchester-born footballer needs the right approach towards the game and needs a reciprocal response from his coach, manager and mentor.
In conclusion, if he takes care of himself, and is taken care of, we could probably be witnessing a world class football in the making. All I can tell you is, surely Rashford has the quality in him. We just have to wait a little longer to see how and whether that quality is nurtured!
And it is clear that the seniors around him have realized the need to mentor him and pave the path for him to step his foot on.
“Juan Mata advises Rashford to keep feet on ground” – Guardian