Talented starlet Marcus Rashford has enjoyed a spectacular beginning to his senior Manchester United career - drawing some reluctant praise from former Red Devils star Rio Ferdinand.
And despite singing the praises of the Red Devils' new young star, who has scored four goals in as many appearances since bursting onto the scene, the former England star and United captain had some words of warning for the teenage striker.
Ferdinand said, talking exclusively to FourFourTwo on behalf of Heineken: "I don’t want to really talk too much about him because I don’t like to put pressure on these young kids, but I think he’s done great and long may it continue.
"For an 18-year-old to come in and do what he’s done has been nothing short of phenomenal."
Elaborating on why the United fans shouldn't carried away with the emergence of a possible wonderkid, Ferdinand exercised caution.
"I think that kids not getting chances earlier stems from some clubs investing in foreign players to come over because the clubs are more certain about what they’re going to get out of it. The players have got experience and you can get them a bit cheaper from abroad. A young player in the first team is a lot bigger risk. And nowadays managers aren’t afforded that time to take risks with the kids.
"As we’ve seen with Jose Mourinho - someone who’s won so much over the years - halfway through his career he’s sacked because the results aren’t going his way. So that tells you there that time is not given to managers so they can’t then give time to young players.
The ex-West Ham and Leeds player also revealed that he feels that Van Gaal has been a victim of fortune.
"We’ve seen with Louis van Gaal some 14 debuts from the young kids this season, which is a ridiculous amount. It’s great for the academy to see that but he’s really been forced into doing that because of injuries in most of those instances. Would he have done that naturally? I’m not sure. Obviously he wouldn’t have done as many but it’s hard for players to get in the top teams now."
Help the aged
But should Van Gaal stick with the youngsters, or bring back Rooney and more experienced players into the fold again?
"I think you have to understand with young players that they’re going to have dips in form and they’re not going to be consistent in the main," said Ferdinand. "There’s going to be times when you need to dip them in and out and there aren't many youngsters who can come into a team straightaway to stay in the team. It happens once in a generation really.
"You see the young players who are doing really well for England now, like Dele Alli, Ross Barkley and Harry Kane - they had to go out on loan. They had to play at lower-league clubs, then come in and play a couple of games and then get in the team.
"They’re the players that we look to as our best young players at the moment on form, and they’ve had to do it that way. There are very few who can play just like Michael Owen would."
Regaling his own formative years, Ferdinand added that going out on loan had helped himself to make the jump into the senior set-up while at West Ham.
"I went on loan to Bournemouth and then I came back and played in the team," he recalled. "But the pressures are different. We had Harry Redknapp and he wasn’t under pressure like managers are now. He could take time with myself and Frank Lampard and he gave us the the opportunities because he was afforded more time."
‘The Substitute’ is part of Heineken’s challenge to fans to ‘Champion The Match’ for the UEFA Champions League nights, encouraging supporters to make their match night more legendary. Rio Ferdinand will be conducting a live Twitter Q&A via @Heineken during the Manchester City VS Dynamo Kyiv match on the 15th March from 19:30 – 22:00.
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