Marcus Rashford better than Ronaldo and Kane at 20 — Southgate
SPORTS By Mirror | September 13th 2018
Marcus Rashford is ahead of where Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane were at his age — but needs to be made to feel “important.”
That is the warning from England manager Gareth Southgate, who understands Rashford’s ongoing frustrations at Manchester United but says no-one should forget he is an emerging world-class talent.
Rashford is again struggling for game time at Old Trafford this season, but Southgate says his performances for England this week will boost his confidence when he returns to club duty under Jose Mourinho.
Southgate also insists the 20-year-old is further down the line in development terms than fellow striker Kane, who was farmed out on loan four times by Tottenham as a youngster before making the breakthrough at age 21.
He even claimed that while Ronaldo was doing “step-overs” for Man United when he was the same age, Rashford is already delivering end-product with goals for both club and country.
“Yes he is (a special talent)," Southgate said of Rashford after seeing him score the only goal in Tuesday's friendly win over Switzerland. "We have to remember that I don’t think Harry, at that age, had hardly played anywhere near the matches for Spurs, really.
“Even if some of those other top players who have broken into the team, some of the step-overs and things Ronaldo was doing at that age, but he wasn’t converting them into the number of goals, so we have got to give him time to develop.
“He [Rashford] has still played a lot of football, although maybe not the continuous starts and I’m really pleased for him that he leaves England full of confidence. He’s got huge competition for places at his club, so you can understand that (frustration).
“For me, I was delighted because we really wanted to make him feel important over this period anyway.
“He would have been a bit disappointed about the amount of time he had at the World Cup but it was important especially to get him in the penalty box and remembering the areas he needs to be scoring goals from.
“His confidence will be boosted I’m sure, two goals against top-quality opposition in both games.
“It’s not my business to interfere with club managers, they have a difficult job to do and they have big squads at the top six, huge competition for places. Jose thinks the world of Marcus. He’s a huge admirer of him, but he’s got his job to do.”
Rashford has started just once for United this season, but twice with England in the space of four days.
He now returns to Old Trafford to begin a three-game suspension for a red card picked up 10 minutes after going on as a sub in their win at Burnley in the last game before this international break.
It is easy to understand his frustration as he has looked one of Europe’s brightest young talents since breaking onto the scene just under three years ago.
Rashford subsequently went to Euro 2016 as England’s boy wonder but only played a cameo role in that tournament and was then largely a substitute at this summer's World Cup.
Southgate believes there is much more to come from him, but his prospects are not helped by the bit-part role he continued to play at United.
There is also competition with England, although the manager believes he can fit Rashford, Kane and Raheem Sterling into the same XI.
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