The media bias against Manchester United is trickling down to Marcus Rashford and could affect his England career as well.
For years, the media have grown to have a biased view towards all things Manchester United. But, the arrival of their most hated personality in Jose Mourinho perhaps drove the media over the edge. Mourinho’s Manchester United reign has been branded as a failure so far.
Continuous criticism of the manager, all despite Mourinho securing two major trophies for Manchester United while also achieving a second-placed finish in the league last season. But, if you read the articles in circulation in both digital and print media, you would be convinced Manchester United had not won a single trophy and finished outside the top four each season.
Unlike others though, Jose Mourinho is used to it. Unfortunately, the current batch of Manchester United players are not. The likes of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial have already fallen prey while Luke Shaw is the only one to recover.
The criticism aimed towards Marcus Rashford though, is a different beast altogether. The Manchester United academy graduate has been billed as a future superstar and has been a mainstay at club level and for country for a considerable period now.
While some of the criticism directed at Rashford was fair earlier on, the aftermath of the stalemate played between England and Croatia brought out a rather harsh narrative for the striker. The 20-year-old missed a couple of chances during the match and was hounded in the media for his lacklustre finishing.
Add this to what he is already dealing with in terms of the chances he missed in the comeback 3-2 win over Newcastle United right before the international break, this might have been a tad bit too much. Come to look at it, the entire English squad had been underperforming to an extent.
Harry Kane hasn’t scored in seven games now and has looked abject, with the 3-2 win over Spain in their latest UEFA Nations League match yielding his best performance in a while as Kane collected two assists.
Raheem Sterling had not scored a goal in 14 games before the brace against Spain. Compare the statistics to Marcus Rashford and one would easily see that the Manchester United superstar has been England’s most prolific star in recent times.
Against Spain, he calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net after his wonderful run was spotted by Harry Kane, who played in a treat of a delivery for his compatriot. But, the media chose to label Sterling as the star of the night, which he rightly was.
Although it is good to see Sterling receive praise as he has also been unceremoniously targeted by the media on numerous occasions; in doing so, they undermined Rashford once again. Mind you, the Manchester United striker still remains the most prolific forward for England in recent times.
It is clear his confidence has taken a beating at club level, with the striker being continuously played out of position by Jose Mourinho, who has deployed him more on the wings than through the middle. The 20-year-old still has 33 goals so far at the senior level for Manchester United.
A reminder that the striker is only 20 and in most cases at an English club, would have been playing either for the reserves or be shipped out on loan. Instead, despite being played out of position, Rashford is one of the top minute grossers on the field for Manchester United under Mourinho.
The manager hinted at the unwarranted scrutiny after the win over Newcastle, that Rashford perhaps played scared, which contributed to the misses. But, the comments were again taken out of context by the media, who took it as a shot at the Manchester United striker rather than their own selves, which was the manager’s intention, something that is clear if you read or watch the entire interview.
The bias against Manchester United is not something new. But, the Red Devils are not the same successful footballing entity they were under Sir Alex Ferguson. With the winning mentality not really visible within the squad, the players have also become more fallible.
Jose Mourinho has attempted to bring back the siege mentality. But, what the media need to do is back down from the likes of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. The two are still budding footballers and have room to grow. Criticism is welcome by every professional. But, blindsided criticism often creates a hostile environment for the young stars.
The 20-year-old boasts of 130 appearances for Manchester United at the senior level. But, he is still learning the tricks of the trade. Patience is often the key with talents like Marcus Rashford. Billed as the next great forward for England, it is perhaps, the media that have raised their own expectations from the youngster.
My advice: Let the Manchester United boy spread his wings before we begin to clip them.