Marcus Rashford scored his 50th Manchester United goal on Sunday as we beat Norwich 3-1 to boost our position in the table somewhat. At least we’re not in the bottom half anymore!
Having missed a penalty moments earlier, Rashford made amends for his mistake with a cool finish from a perfect Daniel James ball. Social media was still in the midst of bashing the 21-year-old for his poor penalty by the time he had put us 2-0 up, with our supporters becoming increasingly intolerant and, well, unsupportive over recent years.
But despite some fans not giving the youngster the respect he deserves and has earned, he keeps banging the goals in. It’s interesting to note that he reached the 50 goal landmark in fewer games than Cristiano Ronaldo did, perfectly illustrating the unfair expectations on Rashford. The former best player in the world scored his 50th goal for United during the final month of the 2006-07 season. The day after his penalty at the Etihad against City, United were named champions. That season we reached the Champions League semi-final and FA Cup final. Ronaldo was surrounded by players that made us one of the best teams in Europe.
In contrast, the teams that Rashford has been a part of are the worst United have seen for 30 years, yet he still managed to reach the 50-goal mark ahead of Ronaldo. This isn’t to say that Rashford will go on to emulate Ronaldo’s career, who knows what his future holds, but it does mean his scoring record warrants more patience for him.
This season, with United’s form particularly alarming, Rashford has still managed to score and assist as many goals as Raheem Sterling and Mo Salah. He has more than Sadio Mane, Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. I wonder if fans of City, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal have given their goalscorers as much shit as Rashford has been on the receiving end of this season, on social media at least.
Inside Old Trafford and at away grounds, Rashford is supported and his name is sung. Our fanbase shouldn’t be judged by those who get angry from the comfort of their couch, behind their screens, but he has no escaping of the vitriol that comes his way.
Last week, Rashford launched his ‘In The Box’ Christmas campaign, saying, “I’m Manchester born and bred. And this Christmas I want to give something back to this great city. I’m very proud to be teaming up with Selfridges as we look to help those who need it most – and you can get involved too!”
While there were lots of supporters who were praising him for his efforts to help Manchester’s homeless people, there were plenty who responded to this post with criticism.
“You want to find some new boots in that lot and start scoring mate,” was one response. “Give us goals man not what you doing,” said another. “You should be training so you can give us a better performance on Sunday go and watch your videos and see how out of form you are.”
It’s unreal to me that a Mancunian, who has been at the club since he was seven, who has scored so many goals at such a young age, who loves the city and gives something back, could be treated like this by people who claim to love the club.
In the summer, Rashford was interviewed by The Times about his feelings on the current situation at Old Trafford, and what United meant to him.
Manchester United are one big family. Some clubs don’t have that. That’s why United are more than a football club to me. Me being a fan changes the emotional side of it. Say we lose a game, it affects me more than it should because I’m a fan. It hurts every day to see where we are now, compared to where we’ve been in the past. It makes me more determined to put the club back where they belong.
I had United posters on the wall. I used to read a lot of books and programmes on United. When we used to go to games, I took programmes home to read. For a long time I used to keep each ticket.
I like the foundations of the club, the morals. Obviously the football was beautiful but as I got older I fell in love with the club, not just the football. It’s the values. United teach you to be good people before they teach you to be good players. That, for me, is the biggest thing. When you go home to your parents, you’re a better person every day. Little things like in the morning you have to shake everyone’s hands. When you leave you do the same, whether training’s been good or bad.
I remember when I was younger and walked through those buildings, and there was David Beckham, Gary Neville, Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, Ryan Giggs. For me, they were motivation every day. We used to see the pictures and watch them on the weekend or midweek playing for United, that was our drive. Now when we go back it’s got us on the wall. It’s a bit breathtaking to be honest.
Seeing the United shirt with my name on it hung up in the dressing room for the first time was the biggest feeling I’ve had in football. Nothing can replace that. We’ve had some brilliant moments since then, but that moment is in my heart, it’s the best moment. It meant my dream was closer — and it was Manchester United. Seeing my name was emotional, but seeing the badge . . . is an even stronger emotion. It’s the badge that drives me. If I do well for the badge then people will remember me. I feel the fans’ energy. It’s positive for me. That atmosphere helps me.
Some people dismiss the affection fans feel for Rashford for purely being down to him being a local lad. They claim he isn’t good enough and the only reason he’s still here or supporters like him is because he’s an academy graduate. I’d be lying if I said the fact he’s Red through and through doesn’t make me all the more eager for him to succeed. If there was anyone I could have picked to blast a penalty in to the roof Gianluigi Buffon’s net in injury time against PSG to put us in to the next round of the Champions League, it would be him. But to suggest he is supported purely because he’s a Manc is ridiculous.
When you take in to consideration that 10 of the 50 goals he’s scored by the age of 21 are against Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Arsenal, it shows the calibre of the player we’re dealing with. He’s not the finished product. He makes mistakes. His finishing isn’t as good as it could be. He shouldn’t be played up front leading the line. But he’s a good, young player who is still years away from reaching his peak.
Congratulations on your first 50 goals for the club, Rashford. Here’s to the next 50!