The Dutch coach has put his faith in youngsters throughout his long career, notably with his Champions League-winning Ajax team, and named a hugely inexperienced side to face Arsenal on Sunday.
Fresh from his midweek heroics in the Europa League, Rashford capped his Premier League debut with a brace in a 3-2 victory against the Gunners, later setting up Ander Herrera’s winner.
And Van Gaal is already seeing similarities between United’s 18-year-old sensation and several youngsters who developed into superstars under his guidance at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“I can imagine a lot – you want to hear? I don’t think so!” joked Van Gaal when asked by the BBC if he could recall any youngsters making such an explosive impact as Rashford.
“But Kluivert makes the winning goal in the Super Cup in Netherlands. Xavi made a fantastic goal, it was Barcelona against I think Valladolid. And then also a fantastic debut was Muller, and he scores a lot of goals as you know in Bayern Munich, and he was playing in the second team.”
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As well as Rashford, fellow teenager Timothy Fosu-Mensah was also given a run out against Arsenal – becoming the 20th United youth product to feature in the matchday squad this term.
Van Gaal says he has no hesitation in leaning on the younger members of his squad, despite taking on one of the favourites for the Premier League title, and was not taken back by how well Rashford in particular slotted into the team.
“No, I’m not surprised,” he explained. “That’s why we have a small selection, so we can give young players a chance.
“If you have a wide selection you cannot give these youngsters a chance. I have done that in all my clubs and you can see that. In my experience, the youngsters are always playing the first match very good, the second match is different. But Marcus also did the second match so he’s a special talent I think.”