Much of the aftermath of Manchester United‘s 4-0 victory over Norwich City focused on the individual achievements of Marcus Rashford, who celebrated 200 appearances for the Red Devils by scoring twice to make this his most productive Premier League campaign of his career.
Yet the celebrations around Rashford’s achievements glossed over his true moment of individual brilliance at Old Trafford on Sunday.
In the ninth minute of the game, with the scores still locked at 0-0, Rashford sized up Sam Byram in Norwich’s penalty area and, to use a technical term, elasticoed the f*ck out of him.
It’s not the first time Rashford has pulled out an elastico, but the key to the trick is choosing your moments wisely, meaning it has retained its allure while being passed down a lineage of footballing greats in an age of endless skills compilations.
Part of the England international’s improved maturity this season has been his ability to shift up and down the gears depending on the situation in front of him.
A player best known for his pace and drive in attack, Rashford can now mould periods of games to the speed he desires. In United’s Manchester derby victory at the Etihad in December, the most threatening moment Rashford provided was when he simply stood still.
And when Rashford paused for a moment in Norwich’s penalty box on Saturday, Byram and Todd Cantwell should have known they were in trouble.
The most frightening thing is the speed with which Rashford goes from stationary to already on the other side of Byram, who will feel the need to continue looking over his shoulder for the rest of the week just in case he finds Rashford creeping up on him.
At the age of just 22, Rashford will have another couple of hundred Manchester United appearances in his sights and no doubt there are plenty more goals to follow too.
But if he is to truly fulfill his legacy, Rashford needs to carry the torch of the elastico for future generations to enjoy.