Manchester United fans have plenty to be anxious about as the season opener against Leicester City quickly approaches, and the future with José Mourinho seems even more uncertain than it did after the FA Cup Final loss to Chelsea. However, one player continues to improve and win the hearts of fans — Marcus Rashford. The young English forward had another fine season in 2017/18, but he is always looking to improve. His determination, passion, and production have earned him the right to claim the no. 10 shirt at Manchester United.
Here’s why Marcus Rashford was made to wear the no. 10 for Manchester United.
Rashford Hasn’t Wavered When Faced With Obstacles
Rashford is entering his 3rd full season as a first team player. It hasn’t always been easy for attackers, but despite the lack of emphasis on attacking football at Old Trafford under Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal, Rashford is still able to consistently produce goals and assists. Rashford isn’t always in the starting 11, but he keeps his head down and trains hard to get back on the team sheet whenever he is benched. He ended last season with another double digit goal tally, and did enough to earn a spot in the England World Cup squad. With his work ethic and passion for the club, don’t be surprised to see him appear regularly again, especially if Anthony Martial’s struggles with Mourinho continue.
Coming out of the academy is always tough, especially at a club with high expectations surrounding graduates of the historic footballing school. Many have failed to reach the heights expected of them, but Rashford simply doesn’t quit. He wears the badge with the pride every United fans hopes to see in their players. As a prolific local lad and Academy graduate he’s the embodiment of what Manchester United has always valued in its players, even in an age of adversity and uncertainty over the club’s future. Giving him the number 10 shirt is a symbolic reward, but also further incentive, for a man who has got a bright future ahead of him.
Rashford’s Idol Wore Number 10
Marcus Rashford is Mancunian through and through. He went to every game he could growing up in the United Academy system, and he got to see his favorite player, Wayne Rooney, go to work in nearly every match. Rashford grew up witnessing his historic partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo, his years as the team’s leader up front, and then, when Rooney’s career at United was coming to an end, Marcus Rashford began regularly taking the field at Old Trafford himself. Rashford spent his childhood looking up to Rooney, and was suddenly learning from the all time Manchester United and England top scorer in both the Manchester United and England squads.
Rashford wrote in The Players’ Tribune just how much it meant to him being able to train and play alongside Rooney:
“He speaks to me a lot about the game — the positions he’s been in, the situations he’s had to deal with. I first met Wayne after my debut for United. He was injured at the time, but he came into the changing room after the game, walked straight up to me and said congratulations. It may seem like a small thing, but it wasn’t. It meant a lot to me. And honestly, that’s how it’s been with Wayne. He’s just a really relaxed guy.
“Just go out and play,” he’ll tell me. “Don’t feel nervous. Play your own game and feel free on the pitch.”
And that’s Wayne. You’re not necessarily going to get a big speech. But he’s been through so much that he knows exactly what’s needed at the time.”
There are a lot of high hopes for Marcus Rashford’s Manchester United and England careers. Wayne Rooney faced similar expectations in his career, and it seems he’s passed on some of his footballing wisdom to the young Mancunian. Rashford aspires to be that level of player for Manchester United.
The No. 10 Shirt Is Synonymous With Importance
Manchester United’s no. 7 shirt is often considered the shirt of legends at Old Trafford, but the no. 10 is up there as well when it comes to all time great goalscorers. Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Mark Hughes, Dennis Law, and Wayne Rooney each made it to 9th, 7th, 3rd, and 1st respectively on Manchester United’s all time top scorers list. The no. 10 has always been a significant squad number, and should be occupied by a player worthy of that status.
Ever since Pele kids have grown up idolizing someone who wears no. 10. For Lionel Messi it was Diego Maradona. For Neymar it was Ronaldinho. Rashford got to learn from his hero Rooney, and now it’s his turn to come into his own and become a player that inspires others.
The no. 10 may come with that added pressure of expectation to produce every game, but those are the sort of expectations Rashford has had to deal with already in his young career. He was playing regularly for Manchester United, one of the premier sports clubs in the world, by the age of 18. He’s been able to grow and improve in a time when there is so much uncertainty over team stability. Giving him the no. 10 sends a statement: That the club still values building with youth for the future, that Rashford is a big part of that future, and that hard work on the training ground and production on the pitch is rewarded.
Marcus Rashford isn’t the most prolific player yet, but he’s given United everything so far, and there’s no reason to doubt his growth will continue. At only 20 years of age he’s the youngest of the current attacking corps, but he’s already an important part of United’s squad. The no. 10 shirt is historic and important at Manchester United, and it should only be given to someone who produces and cares for badge as much as Rashford does.