Can I shock you… Marcus Rashford might actually be… good? Like really good?
His inconsistency has been a stick to beat him with over the last couple of years, but the reality is he’s still just a kid playing for one of the biggest clubs on the planet, a club who are a pale imitation of what they once were.
But any question of inconsistency has been emphatically dismissed in what feels like a real breakthrough season for the 22-year-old.
CLAIM YOUR FREE £30 BET NOW - AD
- Get a free £30 bet with Betway
- Split the bet however you like
- CLAIM YOUR FREE BET NOW
Man United have been mediocre at best, but without Rashford’s heroics Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have been staring down the barrel of a genuine relegation dogfight, if he was allowed to stay that long.
Rashford has been involved in exactly 50% of their 36 league goals so far this campaign and while he has been particularly hot from the penalty spot, he’s also been lethal on the biggest occasions.
Just this season alone he’s bagged against Chelsea three times, Spurs and City twice and once against Liverpool and Leicester.
For a while United had actually taken more points off the six or seven teams above them than those below them, which points to how prolific Rashford has been in the bigger games.
But there’s no denying, in spite of the circus going on around him, Rashford has become a man in 2019/20.
You only have to compare his stats at his age to some modern greats to realise he’s onto something quite special.
By his current age – 22 years and 72 days – Cristiano Ronaldo had 34 goals and 22 assists, Harry Kane 25 and four and Raheem Sterling 30 and 21.
Rashford has 41 goals and 18 assists, averaging a goal involvement every 146 minutes in the Premier League.
Only Kane averaged better at that age and the Spurs man had played less than half the games Rashford has under his belt.
Considering Rashford, besides one season under Jose Mourinho when they were well adrift of runaway champions City, has more or less been representing a Europa League level club his entire career, that’s some feat.
People laughed at the reported links with Barcelona in the summer, but if United continue to flatter to deceive they’ll very rightly have a challenge to keep a hold of one of their own.
Almost daily the conversation turns to who Solskjaer might bring in to bolster his squad, when actually just ensuring Rashford is satisfied might be a bigger statement of intent.
He has 19 goals in his last 22 games for club and country and only one man – Jamie Vardy – has scored more in the top flight so far this season. That is world class form.
He is the top scorer across Europe’s top five leagues for players aged 23 and under, leaving the likes of Jadon Sancho, Kylian Mbappe and Lautaro Martinez in his wake.
Sterling has benefited from Pep Guardiola’s tutelage, Kane had Mauricio Pochettino and Ronaldo blossomed into a world beater under Sir Alex Ferguson; all of them elite managers.
Rashford, in complete contrast, has taken his game to new levels all while being coached by a glorified PE teacher.
It’s been timely too considering England look particularly top heavy going into an international tournament year.
Realistically Gareth Southgate may have to leave one, maybe even two, at home from Kane, Rashford, Sterling, Sancho, Tammy Abraham and Danny Ings, all of who are firing on all cylinders.
None are currently in better form than Rashford and arguably none have a higher ceiling given what he has showcased in a United shirt this campaign.
There was a time, during years of domestic domination, when United’s academy graduates only had Old Trafford on their minds.
Now, given the current landscape we live in, their most exciting youth product for years might have outgrown them.