The arrival of Alexis Sanchez at Manchester United ruffled the feathers of the world of football for a number of different reasons, largely due to his astronomical wages. Quite why there was such an outrage that the world’s richest club can pay their players handsomely is anybody’s guess. Many different reactions to this transfer have been ludicrous, none more so than the calls for Marcus Rashford to leave United in search of regular first-team football. These suggestions, quite frankly, come down to lazy punditry and a lack of insight.
Rashford is everything that a Man Utd player should be.
He’s supremely talented: his raw pace combines with an innate ability to slalom past his man with ease. He has a good eye for goal too. There’s another trait the Englishman possesses that makes him a unique asset at Man United; he’s not afraid to try things. The same quality can be found within new man Sanchez, but it’s something that’s becoming far less common among a generation of players who have been coached so much that they refuse to take risks.
The Perfect Club
If you’re a youth prospect in this country, is there a better place to go and make a name for yourself than Manchester United?
The Red Devils have had a youth academy graduate in their squad for every game since the 1930s; an astonishing record when we consider that we’re in an age that demands instant results . United set the perfect example for this: the trust Jose Mourinho — “the man who doesn’t play the kids” — has shown in Rashford and Scott McTominay has been superb, unlike a certain someone from the blue side of Manchester.
Up until the clash against Tottenham at Wembley, Rashford was the only man to appear in every game this season for United, whether that be starting or coming off the bench. If it weren’t for substitute Marouane Fellaini getting injured and needing to be replaced after just eight minutes, he would’ve come on in that one as well.
This current United squad is blessed with a wealth of attacking talent: Sanchez and Rashford have competition with the likes of Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba. It’s little wonder United are the best of the rest in the Premier League right now. Rashford, as a young and developing player, doesn’t automatically slot into one of the first-team spots on merit, especially if Mourinho pursues the much-desired 4-3-3 to get the best out of Pogba. Something Rashford does have on his side is versatility.
The youngster can be deployed on either wing and through the middle to great effect. His electric pace is extremely difficult to deal with from any position on the pitch. His physical attributes also make him a highly effective substitute, with the ability to terrorise defences who are fatigued from 60-70 minutes onwards.
The Main Man
Although there is a high level of trust placed on Rashford as an individual player, there is definitely not enough there yet to make him the main man at Old Trafford. Historically, being the main man at United has been difficult. Very few have achieved the feat. The great teams of the Champions League successes of 1968 and 1999 didn’t really have one. The United trinity of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton were all superstars in their own right, and the 1999 team contained a mixture of experienced heads. Only the likes of Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney have spearheaded a Man United team as the clear focal point of the side, for an extended period of time.
Right now at Old Trafford, United have a core group of five young players who, provided they remain at the club, can carry them through the better part of a decade. Pogba, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku and Rashford are all under the age of 25; an ideal age to be able to build the team around them. With the added bonus of experienced heads of Sanchez and Ibrahimovic, these guys have all the resources they need to develop into a world-class attacking unit.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez does deliver a temporary setback to the progression of Marcus Rashford at Manchester United. However, he is an embodiment of everything the Red Devils stand for, and will be a huge part of any success the club has in the coming years.
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