Marcus Rashford has shed light on the way he has evolved as a player since breaking into the Manchester United first team, pointing towards the positive effect of being used as a winger on his overall game.
The 19-year-old erupted onto the global scene with a pair of braces in his opening two games with the senior side back in February 2016 before forcing his way into the England side ahead of Euro 2016.
He has continued to enmesh himself in the squad under Jose Mourinho this season, making 38 appearances and claiming seven goals.
And Rashford, speaking to the Mail Online, was quick to make note of the advantages that have come with being primarily used as a winger over the last few months.
“I am quite hard on myself but people around me are always pushing me,” he said. “All my focus is just on trying to improve for the future and to make history for my club and the country. I’m a completely different player now compared to where I was this time last season.
“People don’t always look at that, they look at the results but they don’t look at what you do to get the results. When it all comes together people will start to realise. My overall game is different now.
“I’ve been playing in wider positions and it’s helped me know what the forwards want from me when I’m out wide. ‘That helps me and it also helps me know what the winger wants when I get in the middle.
“The modern-day attacker is not just a No 9 or No 10 or just a winger. It is someone who can interchange between the positions if they are needed to.
“I think I’m a No 9 but if I have to move to other positions for certain games it is what you have to do and it is part of your attributes.”
There continues to exist a kind of vehement resistance towards Rashford being used as a winger at Old Trafford this season. Alan Shearer, for example, was quick to question why Gareth Southgate used the teenager out wide during England’s 2-0 win over Lithuania, despite literally just seeing him decimate all before him in that exact position.
But perhaps we are dealing with a false dichotomy here. Why do we confine ourselves to labelling Rashford as either a No.9 or a winger? Man United’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough saw the youngster start up front but constantly interchange with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata. This, above anything, was an example of a new, less specific distinction between positions going forward, something fostered by a next generation that places Rashford at its forefront.