England boss Gareth Southgate has compared Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford to Cristiano Ronaldo and suggested the Englishman is further ahead at his age, leading to an uproar among some United fans.
Rashford has scored England's only two goals during the international break, slotting one past club-mate David de Gea in the 2-1 loss to Spain and putting in a back post volley in the 1-0 victory against Switzerland.
The 20-year-old's impressive performances went beyond just his goals. In both fixtures he looked England's most dangerous attacking threat and played in the direct, fearless style United fans have yearned for from him.
Having broken into the United first-team at the age of 18, Rashford has already made 126 appearances for the Red Devils, grabbing 32 goals and 17 assists. But he has struggled to hold down a starting place due to the competition caused by the emergence of Jesse Lingard and the arrivals of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
The England international has made three appearances for the Red Devils this season, all of which have come off the bench.
The Mirror has reported that following the victory over Switzerland, Southgate suggested Rashford's performances for England would boost his confidence and emphasised that he was still an emerging player with world-class potential.
“Even if some of those other top players who have broken into the team, some of the step-overs and things Ronaldo was doing at that age, but he wasn’t converting them into the number of goals, so we have got to give him time to develop."
The England manager's comments were not well received by some United fans, with many criticising the pressure he could be putting on Rashford by drawing the comparison.
I’m a United fan but this is ridiculous, stop comparing young players with potential, to All time Greats. Let them create their own legacy.— kabir (@mrkplusa) September 13, 2018
Rashford better than Ronaldo at 20? You are kidding! Rashford minus pace is a shell lol.... all that is wrong with overrated english players and coaches! Now Southgate feels like he has won the World Cup, EPL and Champions League and he can lecture us all about everything!— Wayne (@MwitiMagambo) September 13, 2018
Ronaldo made the uefa team of the year at age 19 and Rashford can't get starts for Man United— Jamie Anderson (@JAMIE_0728) September 13, 2018
2 goals in 2 matches they suddenly think he is ready .He might become a great striker but it is fair to say he has been poor for over a yr and has also had enough chances during that time— basheer ahamed (@basheer_dada) September 13, 2018
So Southgate saying Rashford can be England’s Ronaldo, if only that kind of confidence and belief was given to him by our manager— Stretford Post (@StretfordPost) September 12, 2018
Gareth Southgate saying Rashford can be England's version of Ronaldo because of his goalscoring rate being way ahead of someone of his age.— Patrick McCrystal (@mccrystal21) September 12, 2018
Can he please do that for club too?
There is no doubt that Rashford has plenty of room for improvement.— david walsh (@davidwalsh1956) September 13, 2018
But for Southgate to suggest that he could get to the level of Ronaldo.
Is the stuff of fairytales.
CR was one of the greatest in the club's history.
Marcus will never reach those heights.