Off the pitch Marcus Rashford is world class. On it, he is on his way, but he is not quite there yet, despite Luke Shaw’s faith he can go on and win the Ballon d’Or.
So what can Rashford do to reach his peak, and how do United help him out, short-term and long-term? First, let’s have a look at the season just gone, up to now.
Rashford entered the 2019/20 season with a lot to prove. Could he become a regular goalscorer for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team?
He answered this question despite a wobble early on in the campaign when Anthony Martial was injured. Rashford looked settled once he was in position on the left of attack, scoring 15 of his 19 goals from the position.
Before he suffered a back injury in early January, Rashford was on course to become the first Manchester United player to score 30 goals in a single season since 2012/13.
Now with more support around him, with Bruno Fernandes waiting to link up with the England star, Rashford could reach a whole new level.
Rashford is capable of hitting 30 goals in a season if he stays fit, he was competing for the Premier League Golden Boot.
There are individual challenges we want to see him accomplish too, like becoming the first United player to score a hat-trick since Robin van Persie. He has been close a couple of times this season, scoring twice before being substituted off.
Nobody has higher expectations for Rashford than Manchester United fans. Supporters have backed him from day one and believed in him.
What he will have to deal with now is additional pressure as he looks to make up for lost time.
Rashford will be frustrated to have missed out on months of action due to injury. He knows what he could be capable of.
Part of the challenge for him now will be mental, as he tries to reach a new level in his career and drive United forward towards silverware. How will he handle frustration if it does not click straight away?
The other side of it is the physical challenge. How healed is his back really? Can he play twice a week? Can he really go full throttle?
United have to manage him carefully, especially during the next two months. There is a big chance he tries to do too much, too quickly.
Rashford is a leader in United’s squad and this desperation to lead by example could cause problems if his injury is not 100 per cent healed or he suffers a setback.
United must help him
In order to help Rashford succeed next season, United have to help him, in the transfer market.
The addition of Bruno Fernandes as a creative force is a big step in the right direction. Fernandes will need a deputy too.
Another striker will be required, once Odion Ighalo’s loan deal expires next January.
We have seen previously how an injury to Anthony Martial can unsettle Rashford by forcing him out of his preferred position, into a central role.
United also need to find a player who can thrive on the left, and fill in for Rashford.
This could be another versatile striker, or the creative signing mentioned before to fill in for Fernandes too. Jack Grealish would be ideal as he can play both centrally and on the left.
If United get the recruitment right, then Rashford can reach another level, a world class level.
Add in his England teammate and close pal Jadon Sancho too, and Rashford will be better equipped to succeed than ever before.
Rashford is capable on his own of going as far as he wants in the game, but if United can land those three signings, Sancho, a new striker, and a player to fill in for him on the left, the club can give him a big helping hand.
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