Marcus Rashford improvement 'special,' says Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hailed striker Marcus Rashford's improvement since his debut as "special" after his latest two-goal performance in United's 3-2 win over Arsenal on Sunday.
Rashford, the 18-year-old striker, scored twice in is first match against FC Midtjylland on Thursday and did the same against Arsenal, then set up another goal for Ander Herrera. He has been suddenly elevated to the first team because of Anthony Martial's injury.
"Rashford has only played two matches. He has to show consistency to the third, fourth and fifth matches," Van Gaal said after the game. "But he has already shown improvement and that is special.
"Of course I did not expect that performance [against Arsenal]. I can imagine that in the first game, that he did that. He's a striker, coming in to score goals, and the first match is always good. But the second game he had to do what the manager is willing him to do -- and he did it. I think his performance was better than in the first match.
"It is the culture of Manchester United [to bring through young players]. That is why they took me as the manager. Now it is crazy with the injuries we have. There were 12 injured players today. Now, it is a little bit overdone, I think. But you see youngsters always give spirit to the team. I have a lot of experience with that. That's a very important aspect of my philosophy."
The win was United's third in a row, coming after the victories against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup and Midtjylland in the Europa League. The success against Arsenal means that fifth-placed United have moved to within three points of fourth-placed Manchester City, although Manuel Pellegrini's men have a game in hand, while the London club's title bid has been damaged, as they are five points behind leaders Leicester City.
Discussing the performance, Van Gaal added: "Arsenal is one of the best teams in the Premier League with very creative players but you could not see too many chances. When they scored, it was from errors by ourselves.
"You could see it was a scene for the fans. It was great to be in Old Trafford again for the fans and the players.
"We took a risk in the first half to press very high with Memphis Depay. We played with Michael Carrick as a central defender and that's also a risk. He [Arsene Wenger] put [Danny] Welbeck, [Theo] Walcott and [Alexis] Sanchez in -- three quick attackers -- and [Daley] Blind is not one of the fastest, but in midfield we did very good. We were very tight on their midfielders."
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.