From watching in the stands to living his dream on the pitch, Marcus Rashford has been truly immersed in the rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City since he was a child.
Tonight’s contest sees both teams needing a positive result to achieve the season’s ultimate objectives. The Reds are embroiled in a fiercely tight tussle with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur to secure a top-four finish, while our cross-city rivals need a victory to sustain their title challenge with Liverpool.
Rashford, who joined our Academy at the age of eight, soon learned of the importance of the local bragging rights at stake in the Manchester derby but said that the emotions surrounding the game differ from our rivalry with Liverpool.
“United versus City and United versus Liverpool mean the most to every United player and every United fan,” our no.10 said in an interview you can read in tonight’s United Review – the official matchday programme.
“But, as a player, you have to understand that every game in the league is for three points and, whether you’re playing against Everton or Chelsea, they all have the exact same importance as when you play City or Liverpool. It’s the emotions which are a bit different.”
Marcus has tasted the famous Old Trafford atmosphere in a Manchester derby as a spectator before and knows all too well what a win means to the fans. The 21-year-old was among the supporters in the Stretford End when Wayne Rooney scored his magnificent overhead kick in our derby day victory in 2011.
“I’ve been there [in the Stretford End] twice for derbies,” Rashford explained.
“I remember I was sat high up when I was six years old for the first one, so that will have been around 2003. The atmosphere was ridiculously good!
”I sat in the same kind of place when Wazza [Wayne Rooney] scored his overhead kick. That was unbelievable and those are the moments that live forever”
From watching a great in action to etching his name into United folklore, Rashford’s breakthrough season in the first team included a goal on his Manchester derby debut. On City’s own patch, Marcus broke the deadlock after 18 minutes and it would prove to be the winning goal as the Reds took all three points at the Etihad Stadium.
“It was a great feeling,” Marcus said.
“At the time of the goal, the game was quite open. They had a few more clear-cut chances and I think that was probably our first proper chance and we took it. When you go 1-0 up in the big games, you then have to control the game differently, and in that game we did it perfectly.”
Three years on from Rashford’s heroics at the Etihad, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team will aim to get the better of Pep Guardiola’s men under the lights at Old Trafford.
As a Red himself, Marcus knows what the passionate United faithful expect and sends this message to them.
“I know the fans are always emotionally attached to this game, like we are, and I’d just say always keep that feeling and we’ll do our best to get the three points.