When the controversy surrounding superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United was at its peak – there weren’t too many who believed the Red Devils could turn their tumultuous and inconsistent season around.
However, with the dressing room problems seemingly in the rearview mirror since Ronaldo left for the Middle East, the Erik ten Hag-managed side appear reinvigorated and full of confidence.
That is evidenced by their recent form, with the Red Devils defying the online betting odds on multiple occasions to win six of their past nine league games since the return of the EPL (English Premier League) post-Christmas. Additionally, their only loss during that time came at the hands of league-leaders Arsenal in a classic at the Emirates that ended 3-2 – with Eddie Nketiah’s goal in the 90th minute ultimately proving the difference.
As a result of their strong showings, at the time of writing, the Old Trafford-based club sit third in the league table, just two points adrift from their second-placed cross-city rivals Manchester City – and five points adrift from the Gunners.
United’s uptick in form is in large part thanks to Marcus Rashford, whose performances since returning from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar have been exceptional. Having scored eight goals in his last nine league appearances, Rashford is quickly establishing himself as one of the best strikers in not only the Premier League, but the world.
That’s not to mention his goal scoring feats in other competitions, with the man affectionately known as ‘The Prince of England’ adding a further five goals in FA and League Cup fixtures since the break. That takes Rashford’s tally to 21 goals for the season (at the time of writing).
It hasn’t just been his ability to find the back of the net that has been impressive, with the degree of difficulty of Rashford’s goals also worth noting. His individual effort against Mikel Arteta’s side in particular stands out, where he showed every bit of brilliance to bag a cracker from well outside the box.
Given the regularity with which Rashford is scoring, there are some prominent football players past and present who believe he could have as many as 35 goals across all competitions by the time the season is all said and done.
“Before the season, no-one was even sure he was going to be called up for England – then he went and how he was, scoring unbelievable goals, he’s come back from there a different player,” West Ham United’s Michail Antonio said. “The World Cup gave him the boost and then from there he’s taken it back to the Premier League.”
Those sentiments were echoed by England great Michael Owen, who believes the World Cup has been a difference-maker for the 25-year-old.
“He’s come back not thinking he’s one of the best players around but one of the best players in the world after what he did,” he said. “Doing it at that stage, you can’t fail but to have a lot of confidence and that’s been shown.”
From a team perspective, United currently sit as the third favourite to win the Premier League at 14/1 – while individually – Rashford has firmed to odds of 10/1 to be awarded the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) Player of the Year.