In an impressive afternoon of football, Manchester United blew Norwich away 4-0 at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils unsurprisingly tore the understrength Canaries to shreds. United had already won at Carrow Road and Norwich’s gung-ho style of play feeds nicely into United’s existence as a counter-attacking side. So the result of this afternoon’s football wasn’t exactly a surprise, but the way the victory came was, if not a surprise then pleasantly unexpected.
Marcus Rashford began the afternoon with 12 Premier League goals to his name this season. That is already a career-best for him, as is his 17 goals across all competitions. He has constantly shown up for United this season, scoring big goals in big games to win United big points.
But as much as ensuring that United beat Norwich City doesn’t rank up there with downing Spurs, scoring against Liverpool or helping to beat Man City at the Etihad, it showed a side of Rashford that is almost even more impressive and important for the Red Devils.
Rashford has always been able to score goals. He introduced himself to the world with a brace against FC Midtjylland and then another against Arsenal a few days later. His ability to score big goals has never been questioned, but his ability to be prolific? To hoover up goals against weaker opponents to push his tally up beyond 20, 25, even 30? That never seemed to be in his locker.
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So for Rashford to smack a brace against Norwich was huge. More, to smack a brace and dominate the game, speaks volumes to the kind of figure Rashford is becoming at Old Trafford. He’s not just a scorer of great goals (which he has always been) and he’s not even becoming a great goalscorer (more on that in a second) but he’s becoming a leader.
Of course part of being a leader is producing for your team, and Rashford more than produced. From start to finish he carried the ball with incredible confidence and composure, showing the kind of composure and skill that one usually reserves for the training ground. He was hocus pocusing opponents with comical ease, Norwich couldn’t touch him.
Then he added the killer touch, arriving perfectly on time to meet a Juan Mata cross and slap the ball into the back of the net. United had the lead. Then in the second-half he continued to be the one player United looked for, even moreso than Martial. The ball kept on finding him and he kept on making things happen; such as when he played a beautiful pass down the line to set Brandon Williams racing into the Norwich area. Tim Krul fouled him, a penalty was awarded, and Rashford stepped up to double United’s lead.
14 goals… just.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 11, 2020
United, buzzing with confidence given to them by Rashford, made it three soon after. His work done, Rashford was withdrawn on 59 minutes. He headed down the tunnel, indicating that perhaps he had picked up a knock and that the change was precautionary, but in many ways it felt fitting. United were 3-0 up and cruising, so why not get Rashford some rest ahead of an FA Cup replay coming up against Wolves and then a trip to Anfield next weekend?
Marcus Rashford now has 14 Premier League goals this season which puts him second in the Golden Boot race, behind only Jamie Vardy. So yes, ahead of the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Sergio Aguero. That’s impressive any way you look at it.
His dominance even extends beyond the league, as across all competitions he has now scored 19 times. So, barring some spectacular bad luck, he is going to be the first Englishman to break the 20 goal barrier for United since Wayne Rooney did it in 2012. Moreover, he’d be the first academy product to do so since Paul Scholes in 2003! That highlights the stunning scale of his achievement and improvement.
And just like Rooney in 2012 and Scholes in 2003, Rashford is currently the talisman of this side. He’s not sitting around waiting for Paul Pogba to return and take the reins, he’s snatched them for himself and is determined to drive United on to success.
39 goals between them all. pic.twitter.com/HhKz99SiX9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 11, 2020
Marcus Rashford’s power hour performance at Old Trafford has put him on course to make history with Manchester United. And with him leading the way and ably partnered by Anthony Martial, as well as with young Mason Greenwood emerging behind them (a goal today leaves him on nine for the season, meaning he could conceivably reach double figures at the age of just 18), the future is really bright for United’s attack, now they just have to sort out the rest of their team.