The development of Marcus Rashford at Manchester United has stagnated under Jose Mourinho, although the 20-year-old still secured a place for himself in the England squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The forward burst onto the scene towards the end of the 2015/16 campaign, when he scored a brace in United’s 5-1 hammering of FC Midtjylland before emulating the feat in a 3-2 victory over Arsenal later. Watching him play, Roy Hodgson named Marcus Rashford in his squad for the Euro 2016. Even though for a brief time on the field, he was unable to prevent England’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Iceland in the Round of 16 of the Euro 2016.
There were high expectations that Rashford would build on to his impressive start to his career under Jose Mourinho. But, the forward has not managed to hit his peak levels yet at Old Trafford, even though he is in the early stages of his development. The 20-year-old has scored only 12 goals in the past two seasons in the Premier League after being shunted into a wider role in United’s attack.
Mourinho favoured playing other players through the middle in his two terms as manager of the Red Devils. Whether it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his first season or Romelu Lukaku in his second, the Portuguese has not taken to the idea of Marcus Rashford being a central striker for his team.
The English forward made his initial impression in the centre of the forward-line, but has not been able to convince Jose Mourinho to trust him in the role. Meanwhile, Harry Kane’s presence has made it impossible at the International level.
— Elite Edits (@_EliteEdits_) June 13, 2018
Marcus Rashford remains an important part of the England squad, who are considered as one of the outsiders in the World Cup betting Paddy Power odds, with not much of a great deal expected of the Three Lions in Russia. The lack of pressure could give the creative players in the squad more freedom to express themselves, highlighting the need for talent in the final third.
Marcus Rashford’s versatility may actually benefit him providing him with opportunities to play in the tournament as he jostles with Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli for the starting positions alongside the Three Lions captain. Harry Kane is Gareth Southgate’s leading man in front of the goal and will not make way for his position.
Sterling has been Kane’s regular partner during the qualifying rounds and the warm-up matches ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018. Lingard enjoyed his best season for United and may have moved ahead of his United team-mate in the pecking order for England.
Both the players are more versatile than Marcus Rashford and will allow Southgate to make adjustments with greater ease during matches. However, the 20-year-old arguably has more potential with the ball at his feet, running at defenders.
— Footballnus (@footballnus) June 7, 2018
England are not blessed with many players that are capable of turning a match in an instant. However, Marcus Rashford has displayed that ability throughout his career and proved that with a brilliant strike out of nothing against Costa Rica during their warm-up match at Elland Road.
Those moments have been few and far between in a United shirt, but should the forward find his confidence at the World Cup it could allow him to reach his peak levels sooner than expected for club and country. It’s a difficult decision for Southgate to ponder given his options in the final third. However, the raw potential and unpredictability of his play could be an intriguing prospect, especially should England progress into the latter stages of the tournament.