Today, I Feel Mancunian: Rashford Provides A Reminder Of Man United's Traditions

With Qatar circling, Rashford shows what United means to those that fill Old Trafford
15:54, 19 Feb 2023

While the talk of a takeover swirls at Old Trafford, it must have been a relief for weary Reds to watch some football. Particularly when it was as scintillating as their 3-0 win over Leicester City. With the interest of Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani drawing particular scrutiny due to the human rights concerns surrounding the gulf state, Marcus Rashford provided a timely reminder of what this club has always been about. A homegrown talent taking the game by the scruff of the neck under the shadow of a problematic regime who would likely look to stack the team with expensive baubles, as they did with Paris Saint-Germain’s featureless Disneyland of football. 

When the two men first emerged on either side of the Manchester divide, Rashford and then-City star Kelechi Iheanacho were endlessly compared. Both have come a long way since then, enduring the turbulence of their sport. Rashford and Iheanacho, the latter now of Leicester, reminded viewers of those early career comparisons in the opening 45 minutes at Old Trafford.


Both are in a rich vein of form. Iheanacho has three goals in as many games and looked like adding to that total. James Maddison found the Nigeria international with a tidy pass before Victor Lindelof blocked the shot. David De Gea would be the next to deny him as Iheanacho fired another shot towards goal moments later. Leicester’s best moment of the half came when Fred was dispossessed and once again Iheanacho was at the heart of it. This time he was Harvey Barnes’ foil for a one-two before De Gea strong-armed the shot away.

Rashford’s impact ended up being the most telling though. United had allowed the Foxes to look too comfortable for much of the half. But Erik ten Hag’s men can go from 0-60 with an easy slickness that wasn’t there under previous coaches. Bruno Fernandes, who had an excellent half of creative passing, slotted in Rashford who fired home from the goalkeeper’s left. It was blink-of-an-eye fast and devastatingly executed. It was harsh on Leicester perhaps, but a well-taken goal nonetheless.

Marcel Sabitzer was responsible for the afternoon’s big officiating talking point. His studs up challenge on Wout Faes saw most demanding a red card for the on-loan midfielders. The fact that he escaped without being shown a card of any colour was perhaps more surprising.

Ten Hag started the second half by shuffling his deck. Alejandro Garnacho was substituted in favour of Jadon Sancho. The switch saw Wout Weghorst take over from Rashford up top, with the England star going to the left wing. 

For all these attacking adjustments, it was central defender Lisandro Martinez who nearly started the second half off with a bang. A Luke Shaw free kick found the World Cup winner, who bent a header just wide. The more traditional presence of Rashford almost doubled the lead too, but his mazy run ended with a shot straight at Danny Ward.

Nothing has been able to stop Rashford scoring in recent weeks. But the linesman’s flag almost achieved that rare feat ten minutes into the half. The 25-year-old once again left the Foxes’ defence standing flat-footed in his wake before the offside flag was raised after a deft finish. But even the VAR check could not deny the unstoppable forward, 

His England teammate Sancho joined him on the scoresheet moments later. A quick break, a lightning exchange with Fernandes and the ex-Borussia Dortmund man leathered the ball home. Old Trafford positively shook with noise as a procession threatened to become a mauling.

With such future-altering talks surrounding the club, this win over the Foxes will only spend so long in the news cycle. Sandwiched between two legs of a Europa League tie with Barcelona and an EFL Cup final with Newcastle United, it is likely to be but a blip on the radar for most fans. But with several scintillating displays, particularly that of homegrown icon Rashford, it is proof that there is sunshine in amongst those troubling Qatari clouds that hang over the Theatre of Dreams.

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