When Marcus Rashford slid the ball past Joe Hart in the derby it was the composed finished of a seasoned striker, not a teenager with less than a dozen senior appearances under his belt.
It’s safe to say Rashford has exploded onto the Premiership scene, with goals against bitter rivals City and Arsenal he could not have had a better start to his United career. Aside from the headline debut, Rashford’s name has been cited for an England call up, and news broke that his £500 a week salary has risen to a colossal £20,000.
With Wayne Rooney having a difficult season, struggling with both form and injuries, could the 18-year-old sensation really be a threat to the Manchester United skipper’s place in Van Gaal’s starting eleven?
Rashford’s goal scoring talents are nothing new, he has been prolific for the United youth set up, and his talents had both United and City duelling it out to gain his signature.
Boasting speed, technique and relentless energy he has added a much-needed threat to the United forward line, which has been much maligned over the season. So far he has provided a genuine attacking threat in every one of his appearances.
For all his faults, and despite the suggestion that the modern game has begun to distance itself from van Gaal, he does have a tremendous record in giving young players their big break, including the likes of Andres Iniesta, Thomas Muller and David Alaba.
Seeing how these players have progressed certainly hints at a very promising future for Rashford.
Wayne Rooney, who ranked amongst the highest paid athletes in the world last year, has only netted 14 times this season, in 32 appearances, compared to Rashford’s 5 goals in 8 appearances, at senior level.
On top of this, as former United legend David Beckham pointed out on social media, the young forward displayed huge determination and drive, something which the Man U skipper has been accused of lacking at times.
Could Marcus Rashford really jeopardise Rooney’s place? For the short term, displacing his team’s captain seems like an impossible task, but the team and fans will be buoyed by the knowledge that they have a superb young forward waiting in the shadows, and what’s is more, competition from the youngster should drive Rooney to return to the level we all know he is capable of.
Plus, lets be honest, with van Gaal at the helm, who knows what might happen next.