Super Marcus Rashford

Published: Monday, 20 February 2023

There isn’t a more lethal or consistent striker operating anywhere in Europe than Marcus Rashford right now. And I’m delighted for both him and United.

It was this blog that first pointed out his struggles on the pitch some 18 months ago. I got a fair bit of stick for it as well. Even a work colleague, whose opinions I value, said to me ‘I’m embarrassed about the way you’ve gone after Rashford’.

I took on board what he was saying, but I hadn’t ‘gone after Rashford’. I simply pointed out that his numbers and goals had fallen off a cliff.

Rashford is clearly a nice guy - with both a conscience and an interest in many things away from football. He’s done startling work on the matter of school meals for the under-privileged and was rightly honoured for his efforts with a MBE.

I didn’t have a problem with any of that. How could you? He embarrassed a blustering, lying Boris Johnson, who was PM at the time, at every turn. What’s not to like about that?

No. It was the things I was hearing about his ‘people’ hoping to make capital from it all and create ‘brand Rashford’ that bothered me. They were a distraction. The plan was a distraction. Everything about it was doing exactly the opposite to what they were trying to achieve.

I said then - and it’s proven to be the case - the best way to promote brand Rashford was for him to start doing what he gets paid for - scoring goals. That way everybody would be talking about him. And? We are.

It’s great to see him back in form and blasting United into this title race.

If ten Hag has done anything to help Rashford it was in getting rid of Ronaldo. Surely the debate about the stroppy self-centred superstar is now over? Yes - he got goals after re-signing for United but rarely were they significant goals. He was a pain around the club and he suffocated the life out of players like Rashford. Here’s the proof - with Ronaldo starting games at United, Rashford scored eight goals in 19 games. Now Ronaldo has gone it’s 16 in 17 - 10 in 10 in the PL. Obviously there are other factors, but those stats don’t lie.

I’ve always said the PL needs a strong United. They’re stirring. And that’s good news.

I’m constantly being asked what I know about the proposed takeover. The answer is ‘nothing’. I don’t want to know either because anything I might be told would be compromising. My opinion is that the club would flourish under Qatari ownership. It’s fun watching Ian Herbert and the Daily Mail do all they can to stir unrest about a Qatari bid - a bid from a ‘god forsaken place’ to quote Herbert from his column last week. Herbert and his colleagues are hating the prospect of United being owned by Qataris.

Jim Ratcliffe seems to be a serious bidder. Just a couple of thoughts on him though that I haven’t read much about.

Ratcliffe owns the petrochemical company INEOS, whom Greenpeace have got plenty to say about.

According to Tom Hopkinson, in the Sunday Mirror, Greenpeace claim INEOS’s links with several sporting institutions are designed to distract from the damage the company’s business practices are doing to the planet.

He quotes a Greenpeace spokesperson as saying ‘Accepting a bid from Ratcliffe would be an awful own goal for United. Petrochemicals giant INEOS is just the latest fossil fuel company trying to use a popular sport to distract from their climate-wrecking business’. It’s hard to argue.

Qatari detractors say ‘look at what they’ve done in Paris’. Yea? Look at what they have done - they’ve turned an ordinary team into a multi-billion euro business employing thousands of locals, whilst putting the team firmly on the international stage, competing on equal terms with Madrid, Munich, United, Barca and anybody else you care to mention. It hasn’t gone quite so well for Ratcliffe owned Nice has it? Talk to anyone about that project and they’ll tell you what a mess it’s turned out to be. They were once considered the best run club in France. Not now. Btw - I wouldn’t want Dave Brailsford, who now serves as INEOS director of sport, anywhere near a sports project that I supported.

I wonder if Paul Tierney is going to follow Lee Mason out of the VAR bunker this week? What a howler Tierney and ref Stuart Attwell committed by not sending Marcel Sabitzer off. That was a horrible challenge on Wout Faes. ‘How it was not looked at is incredible’ said Brendan Rodgers. It was Brendan, but it was decided in VAR that it was ‘reckless’ not ‘dangerous’. When an accomplished assassin like Graeme Souness says it was intended - trust me - it was intended. It was a scandlous challenge and because no action was taken on the day - Sabitzer wasn’t even booked - the FA should look at it this morning and charge him. (Monday).

Well done Arsenal. What a response to the defeat by City. This really could be their year.

How can Graham Potter survive Chelsea’s latest meltdown? Surely only as long as it takes to get Mourinho out of Roma? A situation complicated by the fact that he’s now got them in one of the CL places.

I’m afraid the Potter experiment has failed. I’m sorry that it has, but he’s clearly out of his depth. Todd Boehly should put him out of his misery. If Potter gets out now he’s £8/10m up on the start of his season and there’s a really good job waiting for him at Southampton, where he’d be better suited.

And a final word this week has to go to Dickie Davies - Richard Davies as he initially was when he first went on air at ITV. It was John Bromley (head of sport) and Jimmy Hill who decided that he should be called Dickie - because there was more razz-ma-tazz about it. Dickie - a lovely man and a brilliant broadcaster.

His passing marks the end of that golden era of sports broadcasting - Coleman, Moore, Bough, Carpenter, Gutteridge, Wolstenholme - giants all of them.

I remember meeting Davies in the London Brasserie Langan’s some little time after Sky started to break up the old ITV-BBC duopoly. He was delightful ‘don’t let them burn you out’ he advised me. Sadly I didn’t listen. They did. Thanks Dickie - for that advice, but as with the other guys I mentioned - for filling my childhood with great sport and providing me with the ambition to try to follow you all. Whether I succeeded others will judge. RIP legend.