| 16.3°C Dublin

rash' resurrection I hope United's win against West Ham will be the match that changes the club's fortunes

Close

Rashford fired in the last-gasp winner (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Rashford fired in the last-gasp winner (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Rashford fired in the last-gasp winner (Zac Goodwin/PA)

I WONDER will we look back on this game next May and say ‘that was the match where it all changed for United’.

You can’t overestimate what these three late points mean for Manchester United against West Ham at Old Trafford mean. And for three reasons.

First off, they are now ahead of Arsenal and Spurs, sitting in fourth place in the Premier League table.

Yes, the two London clubs have games in hand, but the Red Devils have points in the bag and that counts for a lot.

Secondly, every team that plays United in every game for the rest of this season who manage to get to 85 minutes at 0-0 will remember the end of this match.

They will drop deeper and deeper and deeper, maybe the way West Ham should have done instead of going all out for the win themselves.

And thirdly, can this be the match that sees the resurrection of Marcus Rashford? For about the last eight matches in which he’s played, I’ve hardly seen this lad go past an opponent.

And that’s not right, because he’s a top-notch player with all the quality to go a long way in this game.

I wonder was his season affected by going to the Euro Final with England last summer, and missing a penalty in the shoot-out that gave the cup to Italy.

It can be hard mentally to just write that kind of drama off.

Of course, footballers are supposed to put such things behind them. But they are human beings, it is just not that easy.

And nor has it been easy for Rashford outside of football, after he went very public on his personal mission to look after kids in deprived areas of Manchester with free school meals last year. He took on important people in that mission.

He won, and with overwhelming public support, but there would always be a little nagging doubt in your mind, “I’m a footballer, what am I doing getting involved with Ministers and MPs and calling them out?”

Now of course Marcus was in the right there, 100 per cent so.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

But it is still not a comfortable thing to do for a footballer to do, to put himself out into the public arena the way this kid did last year.

Close

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick celebrates after Marcus Rashford's late goal

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick celebrates after Marcus Rashford's late goal

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick celebrates after Marcus Rashford's late goal

And that’s all he is – a kid! But he got a goal last week against Brentford and now he has scored a huge one.

Maybe Marcus can get his season going from here?

Another young player that caught me attention in a match that had me shutting my eyes at times was Declan Rice.

Unless West Ham can somehow recover and get back into the Champions League places, surely this lad will leave the East London club in the summer and head for bigger pastures.

He was brilliant yesterday, it was almost as if he was auditioning for a role with United, who need a player in his position and off his age.

So do Manchester City and Liverpool for that matter – and there could be a right scramble for Rice’s signature on a big and long-term contract during the summer.

I know this bird has flown but you cannot help wonder where Ireland would be now as an international team if we had Rice as our defensive midfielder and Jack Grealish as our attacking midfielder.

They are two very young lads when they played for us and you cannot blame them for going back to play for the country of their birth.

But, my oh my, we let two gems slip between our fingers there.

Rice was superb yesterday, in a team that didn’t really play well.

Maybe it tells you where Manchester United were before the game began, but I expected more than I saw from West Ham yesterday.

They have been going so well of late that I really thought David Moyes’ team would put it up to United.

Instead they looked as of they doubted themselves and were only willing to try to catch United on the break.

Playing with just one striker wasn’t really a good idea and far too often Rice won the ball back for West Ham around midfield – only to have someone else lose possession very quickly.

Manchester United really ought to have won this match a bit more easily than in the heart-stopping finale.

That’s what would worry me about them going forward.

Is there another game like this in them against a decent team where, instead of nabbing the late goal, they concede it?

But the arrival of Ralf Rangnick has got United moving forward again.

Not maybe purring like a Rolls-Royce, but they are at least motoring again, and they are winning matches.

We’ll truly judge them on games still to come against the top sides, away from Old Trafford, but for now this goal and this win might be worth their weight in gold to add some momentum to a season that, not so long ago, seemed to be slipping away from Manchester United.

Yesterday afternoon might just have been the match in which Manchester United got a break.

Now the trick is to kick on and get a few more wins under their belt – the first of which would seem them stay in the FA Cup next weekend.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

Privacy