It is just under six years since the forward burst on to the scene with a brace in a Europa League tie against Danish club Midtjylland before marking his Premier League debut with two goals in a 3-2 home win against Arsenal just days later. The Manchester-born star has been a constant presence in United sides in the time that has passed but he endured a difficult season last year as he struggled for confidence.
There was speculation the boyhood United fan could leave the club with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Arsenal all linked with a move for his services. But he remained at Old Trafford and has been one of the real highlights of the early months of Erik ten Hag’s reign. Rashford netted the only goal of Sunday’s win over the Hammers with a powerful header and immediately reflected on his struggles of last season before giving a revealing insight into his current mindset.
Speaking after his match-winning performance against the Hammers, he told Sky Sports: “To be honest, it’s a completely different energy around the club and the training ground. That for a start puts me in a better headspace and I just feel really motivated. Last year, I think I really struggled with mental things, not just my own performance, but other things off the pitch. That’s the biggest difference from last year.
“We have to try and get in the right headspace for every game. Too often last season, I wasn’t in the right headspace for games.”
Of Rashford’s century of goals for United, only seven have come with his head, so there was probably a degree of surprise his landmark strike came via that method. However, the way the forward leaped above his marker to power a Christian Eriksen cross beyond Lukasz Fabianski showed he is more than capable of becoming a major threat in the air.
The United forward admitted it is one area of his game he needs to improve and is determined to make more use of the service provided by the likes of Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes.
He said: “I need to be scoring a few more headers. I feel like I have a decent jump, I just need to work on attacking the ball and getting the initial contact. For me, it’s just about getting into the right areas, I need to keep getting into the areas and I am sure the goals will come.
“Everyone in the midfield today, they can all cross the ball really well, especially Bruno and Christian. You are almost itching for one of those chances to come and on this occasion there was only one of us in the box. Usually there are two or three in the box. I have to be more aggressive when I see the ball in the air, especially when it’s hanging like that and I’ve got a run on the defender.”