Okay, as discussed on previous TOP FIVEs, things are not exactly going great at Manchester United at the moment. There was the Leicester City game and that was nice, but then came the immensely frustrating draw with Stoke City and with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City games looming large, the future hardly seems certain.
The instinct to retreat back into nostalgia once again looms over the TOP FIVE team (there’s no team, it’s just me), but we will resist! Or at least, we will resist going back any further than about the middle of last season.
Because it’s time to sing the praises once again of United’s best player. Of the league’s best player. Of the best player in the history of football on this or any other planet where the sport is played. Marcus Rashford. The kid with the world at his feet. Yung Rash.
Okay, okay, maybe this a slight overstatement. I guess it is possible that somewhere within the reaches of a boundless and infinite universe there is a better player than our Marcus, but it seems a long shot. Anyway, here are his five best or most important goals so far.
Five: United are back, sort of – Hull City
A tap in from approximately no yards? How is that on the list?
It’s all about its United-ness, you see. The hardest thing about watching the Moyes van Gaal disasterthon was not the losing. It was the manner of defeats, the absence of excitement—accidental in Moyes’ case, apparently deliberate in Van Gaal’s.
Winning 1-0 at Hull doesn’t really mean anything, in the grand scheme of things. But it did, in a small way, feel like a really important result because of just how different United’s approach looked. It really was reminiscent of a Fergie side, never giving up, chucking on more and more attacking players until the inevitable breakthrough finally arrived in injury time.
And it was a local kid that made that breakthrough. Honestly, it’s like Top Red fan fiction.
Four: Where it all began – FC Midtjylland
Remember FC Midtjylland? I just wrote that because when we played them I had to learn to spell it and it’s not the most useful skill most of the time. FC Midtjylland. Hold on is that right? Let me look it up. Yeah, it’s right.
FC Midtjylland was where it all began. United were so unbelievably terrible in the away leg and when Anthony Martial pulled up injured before the home leg kicked off it seemed like a total disaster. However, injuries to, well, everyone else that had ever played centre-forward for Man United, meant Rashford got a game. Incidentally, when people try and give Van Gaal the credit for Rashford’s debut in future years, remember that he would DEFINITELY have picked Marouane Fellaini to play up front if he’d been available.
Anyway, he wasn’t, and the rest is, and will continue to be, history. His first goal was a really lovely one, featuring some very pure centre-forward movement—he timed his run into the box absolutely perfectly and found the finish.
Three: He’s done it against a real team! Well, Arsenal…
FC Midtjylland goals are all well and good, but when a Van Gaal team scores five you know you’re not competing at the highest level. Now, it is arguable whether late-period Arsene Wenger teams coming to Old Trafford represents competing at the highest level, but how good did it feel when Yung Rash’s hot-streak continued in his league debut?
His first featured some typically hilarious defending from the Gunners—I mean, who are we to talk, but, you know. Again, he was in the right place at the right time. It’s such a vital knack for a striker. He was starting to look like Ruud van Nistelrooy incarnate.
Two: OH MY GOODNESS DID YOU SEE THAT – West Ham United
Well. Okay then. It turns out Marcus Rashford IS the best thing since sliced bread. I mean, actually, he is much, much, much better than sliced bread, which really is only okay. But here’s the kid proving that those fox-in-the-box goals he kept bagging were far from the only tool at his disposal. Rather, he had the absolute lot.
Thinking about it now is enough to give you goosebumps. And speaking of which…
One: Goodbye Martin De Michelis, though I never knew you at all – Manchester City
United debut, league debut, first game against City. It went on and on—international debut, Under-21s debut. Goals in all of them. His story is incredible.
But so is his talent, and the goal against City was such a perfect moment in time. The old stager of a centre-back was, essentially, given the Gary Neville against West Brom treatment by the new kid on the block. Rashford sold De Michelis a bill of goods and a tiny movement of the foot was enough to cause the big defender to tumble to the ground.
Yung Rash opened up his body and slid the ball past Joe Hart and joy was unconfined.
Honestly. Top Red fan fiction. It’s the only explanation.
Here is to many, many more Marcus Rashford moments in the years to come.