Marcus Rashford is still not the finished article, according to the man who helped guide him through Manchester United’s youth ranks.
Rashford started the season in Paul McGuinness’ under-18 team before capitalising on a lucky break prior to a Europa League tie with Midtjylland, when Anthony Martial got injured in the warm-up.
Eighteen-year-old Rashford was propelled from the bench into United’s starting line-up, scored twice on his debut and has not looked back, taking his tally to eight in 17 games by scoring in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth.
Rashford will lead United’s attack in Saturday’s FA Cup final and has also been called into England’s 26-man provisional squad for Euro 2016.
But McGuinness thinks it would be wrong for Rashford to believe he has made it.
“Marcus is not the finished article,” he said.
“He is still attracted to the ball and (United seniors boss) Louis van Gaal is right, he is still moving outside the line of the posts down the side of the pitch.
“He also needs a bit of luck in avoiding injury. But he has given himself a good foundation. It is up to him to build on that.
“I hope he does. Let’s face it, there are not many top goalscorers in English football.”
McGuinness will watch Rashford’s career develop from a detached perspective, having left United after 24 years in February.
He helped out with the England Under-18 squad not long after his departure but has yet to decide his next full-time career move, which could be as a head of coaching, academy manager or even as a first-team manager at a club committed to youth development, although he accepts “you cannot always choose”.
McGuiness has an eye for the development of young players though, having worked out Rashford was better suited to being a central striker rather than the number 10 he initially wanted to be.
“He wasn’t goal obsessed,” said McGuinness.
“He would play up front but he was always wanting to be the clever number 10.
“Someone with that much ability and speed is wasted doing that. It happened with Cristiano Ronaldo. When he first came he was all tricks and stepovers and show. Then he started to realise goals got you all the attention.
“And he changed didn’t he? He saw what could happen if he changed to a striker’s mentality.”