Van Gaal not making rash decisions over Rashford

Marcus Rashford returning to the United bench after being substituted in the 3-2 win over Arsenal, where he scored the first two goals.
Marcus Rashford returning to the United bench after being substituted in the 3-2 win over Arsenal, where he scored the first two goals.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manager Louis van Gaal is wary of asking teenage sensation Marcus Rashford to take on too much responsibility too soon, but Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has already hailed his team-mate as "undroppable".

Ahead of Watford's visit to Old Trafford for their Premier League clash today, Mata suggested that the striker should start again.

Rashford has four goals in his first two senior appearances, netting braces in a Europa League win over FC Midtjylland last Thursday and Sunday's 3-2 Premier League victory over Arsenal.

Asked if Rashford was undroppable, Mata told the Manchester Evening News: "Yeah. In the first goal (against Arsenal), he was in the right position to put the ball in the back of the net.

"The second was a great header because he had to give power to the ball and it's not easy to score a header against Petr Cech.

"He knows where the goal is, and that's very important for a killer like him."

Yet, Rashford is also just 18. On Monday, he still had to show up for classes at Ashton-on-Mersey School. According to The Sun, the Manchester-born player is taking his A levels this summer.

Van Gaal is understandably urging caution, even if leaving Rashford out against Watford may well prove impossible.

"We have to wait and see with Marcus," said the Dutchman.

"He has only played two matches. It is about consistency. He has to show it in the third and the fourth and the fifth game.

"But what he has shown in the second match is already an improvement on the first and that is special."

The victory over Arsenal was United's third in a row in all competitions and has reignited their hopes of qualification for next season's Champions League.

United lie fifth, three points behind fourth-place Manchester City.

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores is hoping to take advantage of United's gruelling schedule of six games in 19 days, as well as the club's lengthy injury list.

"Sometimes, when we plan for the match, it's like we always need to be inside of the manager's head on the other team," he said.

"I don't know exactly how van Gaal is thinking about the next match or what his focus will be. They have a lot of targets in this moment and play a lot of matches. For us, it is an opportunity to have points."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Van Gaal not making rash decisions over Rashford'. Print Edition | Subscribe