After a promising but occasionally peripheral first half display, Rashford exploded into life in the second half, scoring two goals that helped ensure Man United’s progress in the Europa League. Speaking after the game, van Gaal discussed what he told Rashford at half time and expressed his delight at the subsequent performance.
“In the first half he ran too much at the sidelines,” van Gaal said.
“I said to him at half-time to be in the width of the goal and you shall score. Then he scored two goals – it is fantastic for him.”
Giving credit to van Gaal probably isn’t very high on the list of what United fans want to do at the moment, but the Dutchman deserves credit for the advice he gave to Rashford during the interval.
In the first period, which saw United frenetically go for the jugular, Rashford was a constant source of energy – chasing after everything that came his way. The second period, however, was different; van Gaal needed a more measured, calculated approach to assaulting Midtjylland’s goal, and so he made sure Rashford remained central. This meant that the 18-year-old was in a perfect place to sweep home the goals that, firstly, saw United march on in Europe, and, more memorably perhaps, saw Rashford etch his name into the club’s history.