Marcus Rashford entered the unknown on Saturday afternoon as he faced a chorus of boos every time he was on the ball at the Liberty Stadium. A popular figure in Manchester and across England after he broke into the international team, his trip to Wales gave him a new experience.
It was his dive against the Swans at Old Trafford at the tail end of last season that earned him the rather vicious reception, and the youngster was clearly taken aback from his very first touch.
Rashford seemed unsettled, and whereas he may have had experience to calm him down in Zlatan Ibrahimovic last season, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan don’t quite cut the same father figure.
The forward, again playing on the flank with Romelu Lukaku deployed centrally, was at the heart of almost everything that United did going forward in the first half. Rashford’s pace and drive forwards was a major threat, and something that Swansea struggled to deal with.
In fact, despite being taken off in the 75th minute, Rashford managed more shots than any other player with four in total, three of them being on target. It was however, the clearest indication of his frustration.
Off the ball, the striker cut an increasingly irate figure, losing his cool with referee John Moss on several occasions, but his finishing is where his lack of focus was clear. The most obvious example was when he raced through just after the half hour mark, one on one with Lukas Fabianski only to fire the ball straight at him after a powerful run through the middle of the field.
There is no doubting that Swansea singled him out for special attention, looking to physically bully him out of the game. They failed to do that, as his five dribbles show. That was testament to Rashford’s determination and character, even if it wasn’t the perfect display.
Rashford must learn to deal with the heightened pressure in this kind of environment. Considering this was the first time he had to handle such intense pressure on him alone, he handled it well. If he can nail down and work on his finishing and avoid the distractions, he’ll be shrugging off such reactions better than any other teenager in the game.