How Benni McCarthy Has Transformed Marcus Rashford

England stars Marcus Rashford and Declan Rice celebrating a goal vs Wales

Man United and England forward Marcus Rashford has seen his form improve in leaps and bounds this campaign following a few disappointing seasons. The United academy graduate has been electrifying during the World Cup thus far, with many fans citing new Red Devil’s striker coach Benni McCarthy as the reason for Rashford’s transformation.

Rashford, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, was one of the English players that missed their penalty kick against Italy in the final of EURO 2020. The trio were then the subject of online racial abuse by so-called ‘fans’ of the Three Lions.

It seemed as if the disappointment of the final stuck with Rashford throughout much of the campaign that followed as the 25-year-old struggled to find form, only registering 5 goals and 2 assists in 32 appearances across all competitions in 2021/2022.

England stars Marcus Rashford and Declan Rice celebrating a goal vs Wales
England stars Marcus Rashford and Declan Rice celebrating a goal vs Wales

However, the arrival of former Blackburn Rovers and FC Porto striker Benni McCarthy as one of United’s coaching staff has led to the transformation of Rashford, which has been clear for everyone to see this season.

This campaign, the United number 10 has already surpassed his goal tally for the entirety of last season, racking up 8 goals and 3 assists in 19 appearances across all competitions for the Red Devils, including goals against Arsenal and Liverpool.

Rashford has become one of the first names on the team sheet under new boss Erik Ten Hag, with much of the credit of his resurgence being given to ex-Bafana Bafana hitman Benni McCarthy.

The 2004 UEFA Champions League winner with Porto has clearly been working with Rashford on his finishing as well as his movement to find space in dangerous positions. There is a stark contrast in not only Rashford’s form relative to last season, but also in the Englishman’s confidence.

The forward is now being more positive and aggressive in his attacking play whilst also getting his head up more in order to make the correct offensive decisions, especially when occupying the wide-forward roles as this requires better decision-making due to the creative responsibilities associated with the position.

Man United forward coach and ex-Bafana Bafana star Benni McCarthy
Man United forward coach and ex-Bafana Bafana star Benni McCarthy

Tuesday evening further highlighted how much Rashford has improved, scoring two goals on his first start at this year’s FIFA World Cup in England’s 3-0 win over Wales. The brace puts Rashford joint-top of the goalscoring charts at the tournament, having played significantly less minutes than those with the same tally.

Given the form he’s exhibited during the group stages, it is near impossible for Gareth Southgate to drop Rashford back to the bench, such has been the fear he’s struck into opposition defenders. A major turn of events considering he wasn’t even selected for the England squad for the fixtures back in March.

Rashford himself has heaped praise on Benni McCarthy, explaining in a recent interview how much the South African has helped him.

“He’s [McCarthy] definitely helped me a lot,” said Rashford to Sky Sports News.

“To have attack-minded coaches within the squad is great for us forward players. Day in, day we’re thinking about scoring goals rather than the other bits.

“We’ve always got him there, speaking to us about it. I think my aim is to get back to enjoying my football and at the minute I am, so I’m not complaining. If I’m scoring goals and winning, then I’m happy.”

Rashford and England will face Senegal on the weekend in their Round of 16 fixture as the Three Lions aim to progress to the quarterfinals, a stage they have surpassed in each of the last two major international tournaments.