As Marcus Rashford prepared to take the first penalty of the season in such a high pressure situation, many of us wondered as to why it was he and not Pogba who shouldered the responsibility. Now, we’re not so naïve as to think that it was an on-field decision – we all know the coach makes these calls before the match. But what it did tell us is that with Pogba, Martial, and Lingard on the pitch, it’s Rashford who Ole trusts.
It was a massive statement yet one that many of those crammed inside Old Trafford were oblivious to at the time. In Ole’s book, Rashford is the main man. That realisation made us smile more than the scoring of the penalty itself. Okay, perhaps crushing Chelsea made us smile a little more if we’re completely honest.
So if Ole has that much faith in Rashford’s temperament and his all-round play, then we reckon like a seasoned poker player, he should go all-in with Marcus.
The slow and steady rise of a star
Now if we’re sticking with the poker analogy, then let’s first say that there is no instant improvement in the game. Poker strategy guides the world over will tell you that, in terms of improvement, slow and steady wins the game each and every time. And that’s exactly how Rashford’s development has come along.
Yes, there were many of us shouting for the lad to be involved at every possible opportunity and, if it were indeed a poker game, we’d have gone bust at the first flop. But the truth is that the folk in charge knew better than to rush the boy. Rashford was always an incredible talent but it made sense to be patient and allow him the time to fully develop. His game has improved immeasurably since his debut under LVG back in 2016. And to be fair that’s a huge compliment because he was already an astounding player at the tender age of 18.
Now at 21, and with some serious experience under his belt, his time has finally come. And heaven help the defenders that try to stand in his way in the coming season.
The focal point of a new era
We’re all well aware that last season was a write-off. No one expected anything from Ole in the few short months he was in charge, and few genuinely blame him for any of the poor results we had towards the end of the season. Like a poker player without any options, he just had to play the hand he was dealt.
This season is different. With that bedding-in period done and dusted, Ole is now the gaffer in every sense of the word. This is the team that he wants with the players that he feels are best equipped to lead the club forward. We’ve heard it before, but this time it truly does feel like the start of a new era.
So with every new start comes a certain amount of change. We have a new captain in our man between the sticks. We also have one of the most exciting up-and-coming players in Daniel James and a right back to give that lad in Merseyside a run for his money. But the real change in the team’s fortunes could lie in a subtle tweak to the gaffer’s approach.
Martial will no doubt lead the line for the majority of the season, but it’s the man on the left wing that the team should be built around. Now, it may be a bit different to build your team around a winger but with Rashford, it’s more than just his attacking verve that makes him the Ace that completes Ole’s perfect pokerhand.
A potential one-club man
It’s always harsh to judge players by their predecessors, but it’s near impossible not to look at Rashford and think of a certain Welshman that tore defences apart at will. Yes, Rashford has a lot to live up to if his footballing talent is to be held in the same regard as Ryan Giggs but, like we said, there’s more to Marcus than his skills on the pitch.
Rashford has on many occasions stated his desire to stay at the club long-term. In fact, even with rumours of interest from Real Madrid, he was adamant that his future lies in Old Trafford. He’s a local lad that knows the score. He knows that he is now living the dream, and nothing can quite compare to playing for your hometown club at the very highest level of the game.
Marcus knows that he can fulfil his dreams of success if he stays with the club. He knows that with the right man in charge (Ole), and the right players around him, he can flourish in a system that gives him more freedom while also placing more responsibility on his young shoulders.
We’re going to call it now; Rashford has the potential to be a one-club man and in a year or two could even take on the responsibility of the club captaincy. That is by no means a throwaway comment. He lives and breathes United and will likely thrive as a captain.
So will Ole give him the armband? Well, that all depends on how long our Norwegian gaffer stays at the helm. Hopefully, he’ll be here for many years to come, but the job of a football manager is getting tougher by the minute and it’s rare to see men stay in their roles past three or four years. Hopefully Ole bucks that trend while also bringing the glory days back to the club.
No matter who is in charge though, one thing we can be sure of – Rashford will be at the club for a long time to come. So it’s time for Ole to channel his inner poker player and go all-in with Rashford. It’s just plain common sense.