Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United v Watford: Marcus Rashford tipped to handle heat

By Simon Peach

Louis van Gaal believes Marcus Rashford can deal with the increased pressure and scrutiny as effortlessly as his first dalliances with the Manchester United first team.

The 18-year-old, who could start against Watford tonight, was so far down the pecking order that his name did not appear in the matchday programme against FC Midtjylland last Thursday.

Rashford hit a brace as United won that do-or-die Europa League last 32 second leg clash and remarkably replicated - if not bettered - that display on Sunday, scoring another double as title-chasing Arsenal were beaten 3-2 at Old Trafford.

Those performances have transformed the striker into one of the country's most feted players - an astonishing rise that has even take his manager aback.

Asked if he could have foreseen Rashford's impact, Van Gaal said: "No, because he was training with the second team.

"Sometimes he could play in the 11 v 11 when we simulate the opponent, and then I saw him.

"You can see him in the second team - he was handy with the ball, his dribble was fast and he was playing on the right and left. I put him the striker's position.

"You shall never know if a player can cope with the rhythm of your team - he needs that chance. He did it very well, but normally I am always convinced the first time is not so difficult because the player is so focused.

"I always say 'enjoy yourself' so there is little pressure. But now the pressure shall rise for him. After four goals, the fans are expecting the fifth. But he has qualities that he can score and that's because he sniffs the situation before other players."

Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian and Anthony Martial could possibly return tonight.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph