Rashford has scored in each of his last eight matches for United, and with Anthony Martial going off injured at half-time against Pep Guardiola&aposs side, the pressure was on the England international to deliver. While the Reds have added Dutch striker Wout Weghorst to their squad on loan until the end of the season, it is still likely to be Rashford who is looked towards for goals.
After an underwhelming campaign last term, where the 25-year-old recorded just five goals, the United attacker has been in scintillating form this season and is reaching levels that he has not hit before. While the forward was still in good form prior to Cristiano Ronaldo&aposs departure in November, he appears to have improved even further following his exit, with increased responsibility now on his shoulders.
Prior to the Manchester derby, United legend Paul Scholes compared Rashford to Ronaldo. The BT Sport pundit suggested that the England international was capable of emulating the recently-departed Ronaldo in front of goal.
“His numbers are fantastic,” Scholes said pre-match. “His physique as well, he almost looks bigger and stronger, he looks more powerful, almost in the Cristiano mold, doing stuff like this [his winning goal against Wolves], he&aposs almost taken that mantle of Cristiano Ronaldo, being that match-winner.
“Now look, he&aposs done it for a short period of time, so it&aposs about can he go on. The new manager has helped him, he&aposs got a bit more discipline about him – we saw what happened at Wolves a couple of weeks ago [being late for a team meeting], he can&apost do stuff like that, he has got to be on his game.
“He&aposs going out every game thinking he can score a goal and the way he&aposs going, everyone expects him to score a goal. He has become a match-winner – not Cristiano-like, it&aposs too early to say that – but I think there&aposs potential to be that.”
Despite his controversial exit from Old Trafford, Ronaldo still registered 145 goals in 346 appearances across his two spells with United and will retire as a club legend. The Portuguese ace has, clearly, enjoyed more success in his career than Rashford has so far in his, but the comparisons to the 37-year-old are unlikely to overawe the academy graduate.
Rio Ferdinand, who played alongside both Ronaldo and Scholes, agreed with the latter&aposs comments, suggesting that Rashford was thriving under the pressure.
“He looks like a different beast, he looks like he&aposs growing into his frame and turning into a man,” said Ferdinand. “I&aposve watched him in a few games recently and he looks like the oldest kid in the playground at times – that&aposs a testament to being fully fit and also the work going on behind the scenes with him.
“He&aposs got a manager that looks to have a good, strong belief in him. I see him playing, becoming more clinical, and his mindset is one of the big things. He looks more aggressive, more on it and like &aposI am the man. No one else is taking that spotlight, I am that guy now&apos.
“I think the key point is that he&aposs done this over eight to 10 games, we want to see this over a season and beyond that, but the vein of form he&aposs in right now, he&aposs up there with the best of them.”
Rashford will be under no illusions that he has got an incredibly long way to go in order to reach the consistent levels set by his former teammate. However, if he continues to demonstrate the ability to win matches for United, comparisons with Ronaldo – at least on that front – are likely to become more frequent.