MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28:  Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates scoring his opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on February 28, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Marcus Rashford could be a prospect that Manchester United can’t afford to squander

Four goals in two games is great for anyone. If you’re an 18-year-old and those two games are your very first appearances for Manchester United, then it’s something special.

Marcus Rashford, a kid many people didn’t realize existed two weeks ago has thrust himself into the spotlight. He has, on two consecutive occasions pulled United out of the fire, and restored some confidence to Old Trafford. That’s pretty good for an 18-year-old.

Rashford will now be saddled with tremendous expectations, which either results in a long career or an interesting piece of trivia. This all depends on how he’s developed.

Playing him will be a good start. Bringing United back from the brink in Europe and scoring a brace against Arsenal suggest the young man can handle being in pressure situations. That’s good news for United. If Rashford was scoring his first goals against a League one team in the FA Cup you could still have doubts. But in Europe and against Arsenal? That might be more than a fluke.

That being said, Rashford isn’t a finished product. There is work to do, and importantly, Rashford will face a lot of competition to keep his spot. Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, both out against Arsenal will be keen to regain their place in the team (Rooney is out for some time, however). But for now, it’s Rashford’s spot to lose.

Rooney’s first season at Manchester United kicked off with a similar bang. His hat-trick in the Champions League propelled him to an incredibly productive career. But after that first game, Rooney didn’t score for club or country for a month. Even after scoring again, his goal scoring tally was average at best for the first few months of the season. Now he’s chasing the all-time Premier League scoring crown.

Rashford is still scoring, although the sample size is very small. If he has an eventual dry spell, like all forwards do, it will be important for him not to panic, and most importantly it will be important for him not to be sent to the bench. While Rooney’s scoring was average at the start of his United career, he still made 37 appearances in all competitions that season. This isn’t to suggest that Rashford is the next Rooney, but rather to say that giving him game time might be the best bet. A loan is an option and a particularly popular one in England. However, given that Rashford has already shown great poise in big moments, it might be wiser to give him playing time at Old Trafford, rather than trust his development elsewhere.

Van Gaal has called Rashford a “special talent” and that’s good news for the youngster. Van Gaal’s experience with young forwards and bringing them into the first team is well documented. Just ask the German international United tried to pry away from Bayern Munich for insane amounts of money. Whether or not Van Gaal is around long enough to see Rashford blossom into one of United’s best players is another topic altogether.

Whoever the coach is that coaches Rashford into stardom, will be the coach that played him when he was young. If Rashford is indeed a “special talent” he has to show it out on the pitch. Manchester United have been woeful putting the ball in the net at times this year. Many fans have been demanding the team break the bank for a major signing, but what they want might just be right in front of them. Rashford will just need a little polish. Prospects can be hit or miss, many young athletes waste their careers after showing early promise. If United want to get back to Europe’s elite, they can’t let that happen with Rashford.

 

Harrison Prolic

About Harrison Prolic

Northern Illinois graduate with a degree in Journalism. Full-time page designer in Madison, Wisconsin. Part time follower of all things German soccer. I tweet about the Bundesliga and plenty of other sports @hprolic.

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