It’s pretty well known that Marcus Rashford is on the brink of 100 goals in a United shirt. But what’s not broadcast as readily is his 61 assists to date.
Understandably, forward players will always be primarily judged on their goalscoring output, and in that respect, Rashford’s frustration has been clear to see over our last two matches.
The local hero could have nabbed a hatful against Omonia Nicosia last Thursday, but for the inspired Nigerian goalkeeper Francis Ozoho, and he was inches away from a last-gasp winner against Newcastle.
But, goals or no goals, you could see in both those matches just how important Rashford’s skillset is to United.
Rashford: Running hard, making things happen.
Erik ten Hag has one of football’s greatest-ever finishers at his disposal, in Cristiano Ronaldo. He has pass kings Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes to supply wit and wisdom from midfield. Out wide, he has serial tricksters Antony and Jadon Sancho.
But I’d argue that only Rashford can offer a mix of all their attributes, plus the kind of raw pace that can unsettle the very best of defenders.
Rashford’s finishing ability might not be as unique as Ronaldo’s, or his passing as gorgeous as Eriksen’s, but his deep box of tricks is key for Ten Hag. The Dutchman admitted as much back in August, before our no.10 had provided a single one of his eight goal contributions of 2022/23 so far, telling the media: “He knows I love him.”
With Gareth Southgate currently putting the final touches to his England World Cup squad, Rashford will be desperate to impress in Wednesday’s match with Spurs. Perhaps those England prospects and the looming prospect of that 100th United goal have even meant that he has been straining just a little too hard in recent matches.
But he’s ahead of fellow Three Lions colleagues Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish when it comes to Premier League goals and assists this term, and could easily be higher up the stats charts.
When we think of Rashford, we think of the amazing solo efforts: those runs in behind that leave back fours stranded, topped off by clinical finishes. Remember those goals against Liverpool and Arsenal earlier this season? Top finishes in big, pressure moments.
But some of Marcus’s best work does not get the attention it perhaps deserves. A stunning cross for Casemiro at Everton, for example. That audacious backheel to set Martial up in Cyprus. Or the brilliant run-and-pass to Fred against Newcastle.
Rashford’s sublime cross for Casemiro at Everton.
We all remember his free-kick at Chelsea a few years ago, or that amazing solo effort against Brighton at Old Trafford, but don’t sleep on Rashy’s vision and creativity.
Which other current United player could have set-up a goal like the one below, scored by Paul Pogba against Bournemouth in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s early months as manager?
Probably no one – except maybe the young Cristiano Ronaldo…
Was this Rashford’s greatest-ever assist?
Let’s hope that goals 99 and 100 come soon, and that Rashford continues his fine start to the season.
But as you could see on Thursday and Sunday, and as those 61 assists make clear, Marcus is a player that always supplies danger and menace whenever he is on the pitch.
He’s one of our own, and maybe that sometimes means we take him for granted. But we’re lucky he’s a Red.
The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.