Each week, we’ll analyse the performance of a player or manager during the 2019/20 season before throwing it over to you, the audience, to decide whether you would ‘stick’ with them or ‘twist’ in favour of an alternative and if so, who and why? Head to our Twitter (@Eurosport_UK) and leave your comments as we recognise the impact of Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford both on and off the field of play.
It is clear that Marcus Rashford is wise beyond his years. At the age of 22, the Manchester United forward has been at the forefront of positive change during the lockdown period. As a child, Rashford was reliant upon free school meals and breakfast clubs. With schools closing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Rashford recognised this would leave children who depended on this kind of support wondering where their next meal might come from. He wasn’t going to stand by and let this happen. Through discussions with relevant organisations and passionate exchanges with MP’s, Rashford has convinced the Government to U-turn on their original stance by pledging an extra £120million to extend free school meal vouchers for children during the summer holidays. His actions have gained huge traction across the footballing sphere and on social media. The youngster has received wide adulation for his victory and so he should – a prime example of player power being used for good.
On the pitch, Rashford has come a long way in what seems like a short space of time. The writer remembers his United debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League under Louis Van Gaal in February 2016. Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up leaving Rashford to fill the void and he did not disappoint, netting two goals in a 5-1 victory on a memorable night for the debutant. That young prospect has become a star-man, a rapid rise where he has established himself as a first-team regular at United while cementing his place in the England squad. However, it has not been all plain sailing. Earlier this year, Rashford was sidelined by injury and faced a race against time to be fit for the European Championships. However, their postponement paved the way for the return of the Premier League and gave Rashford extra time to recover. His return to the starting line-up as United resumed their quest for a top-four place against Spurs on Friday will have been a welcome sight for many.
Before the lockdown, Rashford had 19 goals and 31 appearances for United this season. It was a solid return to action for the forward in terms of results and performance. United were held to a 1-1 draw against Spurs with a late Bruno Fernandes penalty cancelling out Steven Bergwijn's first half opener. Rashford was deployed on the left side of attack and looked sharp, catching a sweet effort from close range that was saved by the left boot of Hugo Lloris, a save which meant United had to settle for a point on their return to action. However, they re-discovered their clinical edge with a convincing 3-0 victory over Sheffield United Wednesday night. Rashford operated on the left side of attack once again but this time notched two assists for Martial who scored United's first hat-trick since 2013. Rashford will be hoping to replicate the impact he has had off the pitch with some inspiring performances on the field. The games are coming thick and fast and the young Englishman will be needed to step up as the race for Champions League qualification intensifies.
United have seven league games remaining and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are fifth in the table with 49 points, just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea who host Manchester City on Thursday. They will be keeping a close eye on proceedings at Stamford Bridge but also turning their attention to their FA Cup quarter-final trip to Norwich City at the weekend. Rashford will have a huge part to play in United’s run-in across both league and cup competition and he will be playing with extra incentive. There is no getting away from the fact that much of the admiration felt for Rashford at present is for his tremendous efforts away from football. He is a credit to his family, friends, club, country, football and sport as a whole. He has shown how the position of football in society can help to shape it. The effects of his triumph will be felt by children and families across the country during the coming months and he won’t stop there.
Have Your Say
Now it’s time for you to get involved! Head to our Twitter page and give us your thoughts on the ultimate question. Would you ‘stick’ with Marcus Rashford or would you ‘twist’ in favour of an alternative and if so, who would you choose and why?