Marcus Rashford gave Manchester United fans a reminder of his immense quality with one of the all-time great Premier League assists against Bournemouth – as if they even needed one.
Spell-binding moments have been in short supply at Old Trafford over the past five-and-a-half years but Rashford’s contribution to Paul Pogba’s opener on Sunday definitely falls into that category.
Rashford was United’s best performer under Jose Mourinho in December but he’s taken his game to another level in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s three games in charge.
You can file his assist against the Cherries alongside Cesc Fabregas’ outrageous pass for Andre Schurrle at Turf Moor in 2013 and Dimitar Berbatov’s for Cristiano Ronaldo against West Ham in 2008.
The 21-year-old’s fifth-minute trickery against Eddie Howe’s strugglers was the game’s stand-out moment but it wasn’t Rashford’s only major contribution to United’s victory.
Rashford also scored his sixth goal of the season in a first half dominated by United and he came in for special praise from Solskjaer at full-time.
“I said it a couple of days ago about his attributes, he’s got everything and really pleased he will get goals, he’s got two now in three games,” the Norwegian said. “But his work rate, that’s a big pleasing thing for me, with the whole team, because we shouldn’t be outworked by anyone, and he’s the catalyst.”
Rashford, remarkably, is now in his fourth season as a United player and it was in Cristiano Ronaldo’s fourth season at Old Trafford that he well and truly kicked into world-class mode.
There are obvious parallels to be drawn between Rashford’s and Ronaldo’s styles.
Both men are frighteningly quick, skillful, tall and strong, and they’re both adept at playing in any position across the front three, but it is Rashford’s attitude that will give him the best chance of emulating Ronaldo in Manchester.
His work rate, as Solskjaer acknowledges, is magnificent and that’s half the battle. Add to Rashford’s attitude his ludicrous individual talent and United have got quite the player on their hands.
The youngster’s profligacy in front of goal remains a concern – he missed another one-on-one against Bournemouth, albeit a difficult one – but prolific scoring isn’t something Ronaldo added to his game until his breakthrough 2006/07 season.
Rashford is currently on half a dozen goals for the campaign so he’s got some catching up to do if he is to match the United great’s fourth-season tally of 23.
Whether he matches it or not isn’t hugely relevant. What is relevant is that Rashford is becoming United’s talisman – and that’s exactly what Ronaldo was for three trophy-laden years between 2006 and 2009.