You might be surprised to know that I don’t pay that much attention to football, despite it being the most blogged-about topic on the site. But I check in every now and again and one thing I’ve noticed is a deterioration in Marcus Rashford’s form. He was a beacon of light for Manchester United a few seasons ago, not to mention the country via his campaign for free school meals. But this season, he’s not been himself. Numerous disciplinary issues at the club and poor form on the pitch have upset ten Hag and plenty of pundits, but all of this leads me to think that there’s something wrong.
Often, we don’t show athletes any sympathy or compassion until it’s too late. They end up in hospital, they due by suicide, they open up about their struggles to media outlets, and then we hear the empty platitudes like “you never know what’s going on someone’s life” and “it’s okay to not be okay”. But why should we wait? I may be way off base and perhaps Marcus is just enjoying his 20s and being a footballer at one of the biggest clubs in the world. And that’d also be fine in my book. But from what I’ve heard about him and from him, and seen of his dedication to the sport, his demeanour suggests something is quite right, and instead of criticising him (disproportionately to his white counterparts), we should be patient and give him some space and grace.
Again, I don’t know him and I certainly haven’t been watching Man United enough to form a deep insight into where his form and career are heading (besides down) but I know when it’s time to show compassion and that time is now.