Black coached Welbeck while the Arsenal striker was on loan at Sunderland from United during the 2010-11 season.
Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black says Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford reminds him of former Red Devil Danny Welbeck, having worked with the Arsenal striker during his time at Sunderland.
Black was speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of facing United at Old Trafford tomorrow afternoon, when Rashford could make his 12th consecutive start for Louis van Gaal’s side.
The 18-year-old academy graduate has shone since being promoted to the first-team in February, scoring six goals in his first 11 appearances for the club, and there is now talk that he is set to be fast-tracked into England’s Under-21 squad [h/t Daily Mail].
Black first saw the youngster in action during a preseason friendly last summer while coaching at Rotherham United, but even though he was impressed with his performance at the time, he admitted that he has been “astonished” at just how well he has taken to Premier League football over the past two months.
The Scot previously coached former United product Welbeck while the now Arsenal forward was playing on loan at Sunderland during the 2010-11 season, and he believes Rashford possesses all the same attributes that have helped his fellow Fletcher Moss Rangers graduate establish himself as one of England’s leading front men.
“It’s astonishing,” Black said at his press conference of Rashford’s recent emergence. “I saw him when I was at Rotherham in preseason. We went to Man Utd to play them in a friendly on a Tuesday lunchtime and he didn’t actually start, but he came on and you looked at him and thought he was just a young kid with exuberance and whatever.
“But to have transferred that into the Premier League – I watched him last night [when he scored a stunning strike in United’s 2-1 FA Cup sixth-round replay win at West Ham United] and he’s pretty special, I have to say.
“Whether he can maintain that I don’t know. I worked with Danny Welbeck at Sunderland for a year and it’s similar things to him. All the attributes are there and it’s whether they can mentally do it.
“Danny Welbeck was outstanding at that level as well and has shown that he’s capable of being a top striker. Rashford looks like he’s going to do the same.”
While United manager Van Gaal has received credit for handing Rashford a first-team chance, fans and the media alike have also argued that the Manchester native's goalscoring exploits have saved him from the sack amid an indifferent season.
Whether the Dutchman is at Old Trafford next term remains to be seen as rumours continue to link Jose Mourinho with his job, but Black believes a lot of the recent criticism of his management has been unwarranted.
“I don’t think Louis van Gaal has to prove anybody that he knows football inside out,” Black added at his press conference. “He’s an exceptional tactician. He’s been an exceptional coach throughout his career.
“It’ll be a little bit of a privilege actually to be their Saturday, but we’re not going to treat it as just being there for the sake of it – we want to compete with them and show them we’re capable of producing something.”