Rashford the big-game player shows his mentality

Wednesday 20 March 2024 16:32

We'll never know if VAR would have disallowed Marcus Rashford's shot in the dying seconds of normal time on Sunday, ruining what would have been riotous celebrations.

What we do know is our no.10, who showed his anguish and utter disbelief as his finish sneaked wide of the far post, following an expert touch to control Christian Eriksen's through ball, did not let it affect him.

This is because Marcus has proved, time and time again, to be a big-game player for his boyhood club, Manchester United.

His record against the top sides speaks for itself and his ice-cool response to Scott McTominay's astute pass levelled the scores at 3-3, and allowed us all to rejoice in the most marvellous of climaxes in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final.

It's eight years since Marcus Rashford's first Manchester derby strike.

Eight years ago today, as a teenager, he prepared for his first senior Manchester derby and marked it with the winning goal, firing past Joe Hart to earn a 1-0 victory.

Of course, on his Premier League debut, he scored twice against Arsenal. This young kid was clearly not one to respect opponents' reputations, and one glance at the teams he has scored most again is very instructive.

Behind Leicester City at the top of the chart, it reads Liverpool (7), Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham (all 6).

This is a man who found the net in the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle United last season too and, after regaining form since the turn of the year, he can be relied upon to be a key figure on the big stage again, when the FA Cup semi-final with Coventry City comes around next month at Wembley.

There have been numerous big-game stars for the Reds in the past, Mark Hughes is one who springs to mind, and all-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney regularly got on the scoresheet against well, pretty much everybody. However, Rashy has now overtaken him for goals against the biggest of our rivals in Liverpool, even if he is still five adrift in terms of Manchester derby strikes.

The 131st goal of his Reds career takes Rashford level with the great Tommy Taylor in joint-15th place on the overall list. He is closing in on 400 appearances in all competitions for United.

Every Rashford goal against big-six rivals Video

Every Rashford goal against big-six rivals

Watch all 31 of Marcus Rashford’s goals against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham so far…

All these facts and figures rumble on in the background, to be honest.

The here and now is Rashy firing on all cylinders for the critical part of the campaign and helping Erik ten Hag's men achieve their goals. The manager rubbished any talk around the forward's future last week and it's clear how much of a potent weapon he is.

Some players would have crumbled after that late chance in normal time in front of the Stretford End. Instead, he provided a telling contribution in the additional 30 minutes. Just as it was hugely impressive how his team turned a half-time deficit in that period into victory, which must be pretty rare, Marcus's individual character and determination to turn things around deserves credit.

Hopefully, he can take the good form into a glamour friendly against Brazil with England this weekend. We need him to continue to get the taste for scoring at Wembley.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.