Ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about Harry Kane. While the manager was full of praise for the England captain, he pointed out that United have a striker who could potentially be a match for Kane one day.
He can become a top, top striker. We can talk about Harry Kane and his class and I’m sure Marcus as well has the potential to get up there. He has got frightening pace, he’s becoming stronger, he can now hold the ball up for us, he’s a great link player.
Having turned 21 a couple of months ago, Rashford already has 23 Premier League goals to his name and 39 in all competitions. At the same age, Kane had just three top-flight league goals. For the sake of comparison, the all-time top Premier League goal scorer, Alan Shearer, had scored 10, while Andy Cole, the third highest Premier League scorer, had zero.
Of course, Rashford had played more league games than any of those strikers had at 21, but that’s a story in itself. If he’s good enough to play regularly for United at 21, scoring against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal along the way, that speaks volumes of his capabilities.
He also has six goals goals for England, including goals against Spain, when Shearer and Cole hadn’t even made their international debut at his age.
Rashford is ahead of schedule. He only made his debut when he did back in 2016, a few months after his 18th birthday, because every other forward was injured. Yet he scored two goals that day in the Europa League, another two a couple of days later in the league, only to experience a whirlwind few months that saw him score the winner against City at the Etihad, a goal in the FA Cup quarter-final, before being called up to the England squad. He scored on his debut for his country too and then was included in the Euro 2016 squad.
The fact that he isn’t the finished article has meant some people have already doubted his capabilities. At 21, no one could have been predicting Shearer or Cole would go on to do what they did, and Rashford is head and shoulders above where they were at the same age.
Rashford has bags of pace, plenty of skill, but at times his decision making is poor. He has scored some great and important goals for United but on other occasions, after doing all the hard work to create an opportunity for himself, he fluffs it.
But now he gets to work with one of the greatest finishers United have ever had. So often Solskjaer was given just a few minutes to grab a goal and he regularly delivered. He got in to the right place at the right time, had a cool head, and was able to find the back of the net.
For the next few months at least, Rashford will be coached by Solskjaer and taught the composure and finishing techniques that he is sometimes lacking.
It’s far too early to claim that Rashford will go on to be a 20+ goals a season striker. But then it’s also far too early to claim that he won’t.
For now, we just get to enjoy watching this lifelong Red pulling on our shirt week after week, giving his all for the club, and popping up with a few goals along the way.
In four starts under Solskjaer, he’s scored three and assisted one. Let’s see how many goals he’s claimed by the end of the season, after hopefully adding to the tally on Sunday.