There was a moment in Sunday’s Manchester derby, late into the second-half, when young Marcus Rashford chased a long ball down the pitch, headed towards the corner flag with the ball and successfully won a corner for his team. This was a remarkable effort from such a young and inexperienced player who had also been suffering from cramp towards the end of the game.
In the first-half, Rashford had made a complete fool of Martin Demichelis, the 35-year-old experienced Manchester City defender. Before his goal, Rashford had attempted to spin with the ball and nutmeg Demichelis. This effort was unsuccessful, but minutes later, Rashford would receive the ball, turn and blast past a lumbering Demichelis, who ended up on his backside in the process.
Once clear, Rashford demonstrated that he has ice running through his veins by coolly slotting the ball past the England number one, Joe Hart.
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Rashford would soon fade out of the game in the second-half, as did United, but he had done enough to show that the initial comparisons from some to a certain Federico Macheda were premature and off-the-mark.
He has scored five goals in eight appearances for his home-town club, but there is so much more to his game than scoring goals. He possesses a footballing intelligence which is far beyond his 18 years, while he also has pace to burn (something that Demichelis discovered before his withdrawal in just the 53rd minute).
The hype surrounding young Rashford will continue to gather pace, and with Roy Hodgson recently suggesting that he is watching Rashford in the lead-up to Euro 2016, knee-jerk reactions should be avoided. Calling him into the England squad would be pointless and would not benefit him at all at this moment in time.
England already have a very good selection of strikers and - barring a disastrous injury crisis - Rashford should be allowed to focus on his club form while gaining international experience in the England Under-21 squad.
Young footballers are still in the process of developing their game and themselves and at 18 years of age, Rashford needs time to prove himself before he is fast-tracked into the limelight of international football. He already has some fantastic role-models and a great atmosphere to develop at Manchester United, something that was particularly evident after the derby game when he was seen receiving a hug and some encouraging words from veteran Michael Carrick.
Hodgson should take a step back from Rashford, forget about him for now and allow him to go about his business at his club. He has started superbly and let’s hope that he can continue on his upward trajectory and become the real deal for both club and country in the future.
But for now, let’s leave him alone and watch him grow.
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