Manchester United have gone from victory to victory since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure. The main reason for this: Marcus Rashford. He spends his childhood in poverty, then he takes on Boris Johnson. Now the winger dances and scores at will - and is even considered "unstoppable".
Marcus Rashford needed just three minutes against Everton to demonstrate his current top form. Shortly behind the center line, he receives the ball on his left side and drives it forward. Opponent Ben Godfrey only offers escort because he knows full well that the 25-year-old will ignite his dreaded turbo in the event of an attack.
And that's how it happens. Naturally. An image that has become accustomed to in English football in recent weeks. Godfrey can't do anything else at the edge of the penalty area and attacks, Rashford unpacks a small delay movement - and then passes the defender with a few quick steps. Antony only has to slide his precise pass with his left into the middle past three opponents and the goalkeeper into the empty goal. The winger contributed a goal and two assists in Manchester United's 3-1 win over Frank Lampard's Everton in the third round of the FA Cup.
At the beginning of the second half a similar scene. This time it's Seamus Coleman whom Rashford dances dizzily in the Toffees' box. Conor Coady, who had scored to equalize in the meantime, can only fend off his hard cross - again with the left - into his own goal. The English international took over the final score of 3:1 in the 97th minute and shoved a penalty kick - this time with the right - coolly into the right corner of the goal.
Since the World Cup in Qatar, United have been "on fire", as they say in England. The perfect record is five wins in five games. Three in the league, one in the League Cup, now in the FA Cup too. And Rashford has scored in every game. The left winger is the main reason the Red Devils have marched since megastar Cristiano Ronaldo left. Not only does he let Erik ten Hag's team completely forget about the Portuguese after their already embarrassing season - he also secretly shoots them into the top flight of the Premier League.
United are fourth in the league on 35 points, but have a game fewer than third-placed and tied Newcastle United. An attack on the sovereign leaders FC Arsenal (44 points) should be difficult, but after sixth place last season and after the terrible start with two bankruptcies at the beginning, qualification would be a success for the traditional club. In any case, nobody talks about Ronaldo anymore.
Ten Hag doesn't know what to do with all his praise after Everton's success and even describes Rashford as "unstoppable" after his fifth goal in a row. "Marcus was the one who went forward and showed the confidence and faith and made good movements backwards," said the coach. "I think he was a threat to Everton's defense for 90 minutes. It's about putting him in the right position," enthuses Ten Hag, "so he can use his strengths and use his speed and dribbling is unstoppable." With 13 goals this season, he has already scored eight more than in the entire 2021/22 season. Everton coach Lampard also said after the game that "nobody can stop the 25-year-old" when he is in form that he has shown since the World Cup.
Rashford's career hasn't always been a straight line. In the 1-0 win on New Year's Eve at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the in-form striker initially had to sit on the bench. For "disciplinary reasons". The offensive player was late for a team meeting. "I overslept," said Rashford after the game: "It's a mistake that can happen. Of course I'm disappointed that I wasn't allowed to start, but I understand the decision. After it was 0-0 at the break, he went on Winger finally got the field - and promptly let his Red Devils cheer in the 76th minute.
Otherwise, Rashford is actually a model professional. As a child, his family (four siblings and a single mother) suffered from poverty, which is why the 25-year-old is now committed to helping poor children. His open letter to the British government in the summer of 2020 caused a sensation with the intention that free lunches should also be distributed to needy children during England's summer holidays after Parliament had stamped the campaign. The then Prime Minister Boris Johnson then received a lot of criticism, called football and ultimately had to bow to public pressure.
Unlike many of his Premier League colleagues, who post videos on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok and Snapchat, flaunt fast cars and have their PR team post irrelevant motivational slogans, Rashford does not like to be the center of attention himself. For a long time now, the United native has preferred to focus on social engagement on social media. For this, in 2022, Queen Elizabeth II, who died last autumn, even awarded him the Order of the British Empire.
But unintentionally, Rashford is always in focus away from the football field. In the summer of 2021, he experienced racist hostilities alongside fellow internationals Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho after they missed penalties in the European Championship final they lost to Italy. Rashford fought back on social media and received a lot of encouragement. Despite being in top form at the Winter World Cup, he is usually not allowed to play from the start, but still scores three goals for the "Three Lions" in five games.
The top form has continued since the tournament. Marcus Rashford is "unstoppable." But who knows what else is possible with this socially committed super striker. On Tuesday, the Red Devils play Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup before taking on Manchester City and Arsenal in the league. It is quite possible that Rashford will dance and hit his opponent again. In any case, no one will miss Cristiano Ronaldo.