Marcus Rashford’s confidence crisis that led him to ask to switch to a holding midfield role

Marcus Rashford
(Image credit: Getty)

Marcus Rashford has proven this season he is one of the best forwards in the world, putting a tumultuous 2021/22 campaign behind him to thrive under the coaching of Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford. 

However, it hasn't been all plain sailing on his rise to superstardom, as his former Manchester United academy coach Neil Ryan explains. 

Now the manager of England U18s, Ryan spent 15 years through the age groups of U11s to U16s within the youth system before becoming manager of the United's U18 side in 2018, and saw Rashford - among countless other players - develop along the way. 

As a young teenager, Ryan explains Rashford struggled to physically impose himself on games in the way he has so expertly managed to do since breaking into Manchester United's first-team. Ultimately, this cause a confidence crisis, but United's coaches were patient with the future star.

“In the under-12s and under-13s, he was fantastic and often up against older boys,” Neil Ryan explains to FourFourTwo. “You didn’t feel that it was effortless like it was with Ravel Morrison. 

"Marcus’ attitude and talent always stood out, but aged 14 he had a confidence crisis and wanted to be a holding midfielder. I recall talking to his mother and brothers. He spoke about wanting to get on the ball more. 

"He didn’t have the pace then to burn past others because he was still growing, but we always thought he’d be a forward.”

Fortunately for Ryan and his fellow coaches, they were proven right - and then some. This season, Rashford has developed into one of the most-in-form Premier League players, notching 27 goals in 45 games across all competitions, with more than 10 games left still to play in the season. 

Paul McGuinness also coached Rashford as a youngster at Manchester United, and believes there's plenty more from him to come. 

“He has so much more to come,” McGuinness predicts to FFT. “I like to show his January goal against Nottingham Forest in the coaches’ presentations I do. He ran from the halfway line, it’s so exciting and dynamic. 

"He sprints through them all and blows them away. It was like a goal he scored in the youth team. Just imagine if he had somebody up front with him who he was better to play off?”

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.