Serious injury, Sergio Aguero and racing Ro-Shaun Williams - Marcus Rashford’s ‘exuberant’ development explained by his academy coach

Marcus Rashford
(Image credit: Getty)

Marcus Rashford broke into the Manchester United first-team in February 2016 as an 18-year-old, scoring on his debut for the club against Danish club Midtjylland in the Europa League, and again three days later against Arsenal on his Premier League debut. 

Around that period, Rashford had been working hard with Manchester United academy head coach Paul McGuinness, a former professional footballer himself who coached at the club from 1992 until March 2016. 

McGuinness tells FourFourTwo details about Rashford's mindset as he transitioned into senior footballer, the young forward's love of the game clearly evident in everything he did. 

“When Marcus was 18, we really worked on him learning to make runs behind defenders,” McGuinness tells FourFourTwo. “He hadn’t been able to run for a time with Osgood-Schlatter disease [which causes pain below the knee joint, typically among active adolescents], so his development was delayed. 

"He was easily good enough to play for the reserves, but there was a better way to coach him, as he had a lot to learn.” 

Learn he did. 

“He absolutely went for it,” McGuinness reflects. “He’d text me and say, ‘Did you see that run from Sergio Aguero or Wayne Rooney?’ As a student, he was easy to coach, he wanted to learn. If you learn to spin as a forward, to lose your marker, come short or go behind, a whole new world opens up for you. That didn’t happen for Marcus until he was 18. 

“I’ll never forget him having races straight after training. Marcus and Ro-Shaun Williams [Manchester United academy graduate and Doncaster Rovers defender] would go the full length of the pitch, like kids in a playground or wild horses running with the wind through their hair. They did it for fun, full of exuberance.”

Now 25, Rashford's formative years have certainly helped him develop into one of the best players in the Premier League. He has scored 15 goals in 28 Premier League games so far this season, carrying United across all four competitions they've competed in this season.

In fact, his 28 goals in 46 games is the best return of his career so far, and there's potential for Rashford to still play at least another 10 fixtures in the rest of the campaign.

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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.