Rashford seeking big-game response

Saturday 28 October 2023 14:04

Marcus Rashford knows what the Manchester derby means to the supporters and is determined that Sunday can be an occasion to remember at Old Trafford.

The Wythenshawe-born forward has more experience of this local affair than any of his team-mates. After a dream start to his senior career, it was his winner at the Etihad Stadium in 2016 that arguably announced he was here to stay at the top level.

Of course, last season, his goal that completed a remarkable turnaround, when he converted an Alejandro Garnacho cross to defeat the Blues, amid raucous scenes, in January.

That victory should provide some confidence going into the game against the champions but Rashford, keen to emphasise how important the home crowd will be from the first whistle, sees similarities with the approach to a match against our other biggest rivals, Liverpool, in early 2022/23.

There's something in the air on derby day Video

There's something in the air on derby day

Marcus Rashford says he can feel his connection with Rasmus Hojlund growing ahead of Sunday's big game...

In an exclusive interview with United Review, the official matchday programme containing a poignant picture of the late Sir Bobby Charlton on the cover, our no.10 hopes this contest can be the one to really kickstart our campaign, as was the case when upsetting Liverpool on the back of consecutive defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford, in Erik ten Hag's opening fixtures.

This time around, United have been winning matches of late but, Rashford concedes that we have not been in top form.

"It’s just the way football is sometimes," he explained. "I don’t think we’ve been playing at our best but we’ve just won three games.

"I remember last season, before we played Liverpool at home early in the season, we weren’t at our best before then but we responded in a big game. We’ll be looking for that type of performance again. If we can get that and get the win, then we’ll be happy.

"I can see the similarities [to the Liverpool match]. We have the courage and the willingness to fight in every game we play, and we need to pick up the points. We need to move up the Premier League table, there’s no time to wait around."

Rashford scored the eventual winner in that victory over Jurgen Klopp's side, adding to Jadon Sancho's opener before Mohamed Salah pulled one back with nine minutes remaining. That triumph, Erik's first in charge of the club, set the tone for the term and proved United could beat anybody when playing to our full capabilities.

It is acknowledged that the team, and fans, will need to be in top form this weekend, if Pep Guardiola's side are to be overcome again, and Marcus has wondered if the supporters realise just how integral they are to helping pull off a sweet success.

"There’s always something special in the air in these games and the fans are there for us every time," he said. "It’s a huge part of us winning this game, as we’ve seen in so many games, home and away. The fans played a huge part.

"There are moments in the game when your backs are against the wall and that’s when the crowd can make all the difference and really push you on. Whether every fan knows that, I’m not sure, but for the players that’s definitely how it works."

And, in terms of the challenge posed by City, the message was clear on how we can repeat last season's memorable victory.

"You have to be confident," he insisted. "You have to trust your own abilities. But you also have to pay them respect. We have to be ready for when the little moments arrive in games such as this. We need to take those moments."

United Review to honour Sir Bobby


The new issue of our iconic programme is an in-depth celebration of the great Sir Bobby Charlton.

Of course, Sunday's match will feature more tributes to Sir Bobby and a minute's applause for the great man as his glorious life is celebrated.

Charlton was present when Marcus signed his first professional contract and remained a huge influence, not just on Marcus but all of those operating in the Academy.

"Ever since I was a kid, he was on the walls here," added the England international. "He’s a massive part of United’s history for everything he achieved, and he was a great person as well.

"Honestly, he was just a massive inspiration to so many of our players. It didn’t matter what position you played, he was always someone who you could look up to because of the way he carried himself. And that was right until the final moment.

"He was a great, great person, and his passing is very sad."

Read the interview in full with Marcus Rashford in Sunday's United Review, the official matchday programme.