Marcus Rashford He is the most talented player Premier Leagueif not in European football.
the Manchester United The striker has scored 10 goals in as many matches since returning from world CupIndeed, twice as much as it was last season. When played this way, it’s the rarest of things: A player can score at any momentAny way, from anywhere.
However, whether he poke a finger from within the six-yard box against Manchester Cityshouting from long range in defeat to Arsenalor a brilliant solo play through defenders as if they weren’t there like against them Nottingham Forest In the middle of the week, there was one common denominator.
Since the turn of the year, all of Rashford’s goals have been followed by the same celebration, one not seen before this unstoppable surge of performance.
You know how it goes. He runs towards one of the corner flags, stands still, may close his eyes, but always points his index finger at his temple.
It was the first outing after the winner away from home Wolverhampton Wanderers On New Year’s Eve, on the same day he was left out of the starting line-up by Erik ten Hag as As a punishment for sleeping in and showing up late for a meeting.
He has followed every goal Rashford has scored since, from late strikes against him Bournemouth And evertonthen twice in quick succession against Charlton Athletic After winning the Manchester Derby.
Like Alan Shearer’s raised hand, Gareth Bale’s heart Cristiano Ronaldo “Sio”became a trademark. The only question is: what is the reason behind this?
Rashford wants to keep his full meaning under wraps, preferring to keep people guessing, so much so that he kept his cards close to his chest when asked about the celebration by United’s in-house media team.
Those who suggested copying Rashford Aureline ChoameniSimilar celebration after his goal in the net England In Qatar, they are looking forward, but they are wrong.
Rashford’s celebration arose between him and his close friends.
It’s about Rashford shutting out the outside noise that has sometimes followed him through his career, and finding a new focus.
That focus seems to have resulted in dazzling form, and when combined with United’s busy schedule, that format has meant the celebration has been watched almost twice a week since its inception, broadcast to millions across the world on every occasion.
Not surprisingly, it took on a life of its own and began to transcend the sport.
It was adopted by Jofra Archer, the England cricketer, after he took a wicket on his return to competitive matches in South Africa’s SA20. Archer has arguably just emerged from the most difficult period of his career, having spent the last 18 months sidelined with elbow and back injuries.
Jofra Archer x Marcus Rashford #SA20pic.twitter.com/MHARlONG7w
– Cricket (@TheCricketerMag) January 23, 2023
He was far from the first, and the list of imitators is growing. Tammy Abraham commented on Rashford’s Instagram that filmed the celebration against Everton, and then his performance after he scored a stoppage-time equalizer in Roma’s 2-2 draw. AC Milan the same weekend.
Danny Welbeck He was the first Premier League player to imitate Rashford, pointing at his temple after scoring Brightonthird in their 3-0 win Liverpool This month.
Welbeck spoke with Rashford before using the celebration and performed it in solidarity with another local academy graduate, hours after United’s victory in the Manchester derby.
Then, this week, I crossed over to European football on Tuesday night when Joshua Kimmich He copied it after scoring in Bayern Munich’s 1-1 draw with Cologne.
on the same night, Joelinton Do the same thing after logging in NewcastleCarabao Cup semi-final vs Southamptonflex his muscles with the same arm for good measure.
The first player to be honored was an unlikely figure: Chesterfield winger Armando Dubra, who stopped the arrows and pointed at his head after scoring in the 3-3 tie for the National League team. West Bromwich Albion In the FA cup Third round.
Perhaps the most interesting imitation to date is a mimic Bukayo Saka. Running into the same corner of the pitch, the Arsenal teenager mimicked Rashford after he put his side 2-1 ahead at the Emirates on Sunday in a 3-2 win that added to the excitement in that part of north London.
In a match with a rich history of personal rivalries, was this the last frontier? Maybe, but that seems unlikely. Rashford and Saka know each other well from international duty, and the two hugged as they emerged from the tunnel, side by side, before kick-off.
And after all, who would object to Rashford celebrating his renaissance? He spoke of struggling to find the right ‘headspace’ last season, when he lost his place in England and completed 90 minutes just once after the end of the year.
After reaching a century of goals with United, he opened up about that difficult period.
“Sometimes I struggled with more mental stuff,” Rashford said in October. “It wasn’t really my own performance but other things off the field. That’s the biggest difference from last season. More often than not last season, I wasn’t in the right area for matches.”
Rashford is not the only Old Trafford player enjoying a resurgence after last season’s misery. Ten Hag said the same thing during the build-up to the FA Cup fourth-round match readingreflecting the greater self-confidence across United’s attack when compared to earlier this season.
“The front line now also gives me a positive feeling, it’s getting stronger too, and then they can get more out of each other,” said the United boss.
“In (the first part) of the season, for example, we had many problems up front. We often had matches where we didn’t have players who were 100% physically and mentally fit. Now that’s the case much more than that, and Marcus can Make the most of such situations.”
It was at Rashford specifically that Ten Hag turned down the opportunity to take credit for reviving his player’s form and instead put Rashford upon himself with greater faith in his abilities.
“I’m not Harry Potter. It’s just confidence,” said the United manager. “Every player has to make and get their confidence. He fought for this, he invested in this.
Rashford has undoubtedly benefited from the greater sense of structure that Ten Hag has brought to United – as have all his team-mates too – and the boss hasn’t denied that.
“With my coaching staff, we’ve introduced structures, especially in the gameplay that give him the routine he needs to get to the right place,” said Ten Hag. “But in the end, it’s up to him, to the player.”
(Top photo: Naomi Baker via Getty Images)