NO wonder Marcus Rashford is confused.
Manchester United’s striker got the full Nike superstar treatment when they whisked him to London in a private jet for a photoshoot.
They dunked the kid in gold paint, dangling a pair of their latest boots around his neck as part of another extravagant advertising campaign to promote their glamorous range.
This is not Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored in his 11th successive Champions League match with Real Madrid’s last-minute penalty against Juventus at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
When Rashford returned to the day job at Old Trafford, he was still a Manchester United substitute.
He is living in a bubble, a cosseted world that will seem pretty cool to a kid who grew up in Wythenshawe, on the outskirts of Manchester.
Nike are taking full advantage of that innocence.
Rashford is one of the faces, with a big campaign being built around the England forward ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
Instant gratification is one of the sport’s deadly sins.
He has the house, the cars, the £10,000 Cane Corso guard dog that cost Rashford £30,000 to train up, plus unlimited pairs of Balenciaga shoes and clothing in the wardrobe.
Rashford, at just 20, is living the dream.
There was a time, in an era when Sir Alex Ferguson was manager, when all the off-field distractions could easily be kicked into touch.
The modern-day footballer, especially for a player with Rashford’s worldwide profile, is a difficult beast to control.
Jose Mourinho, his manager at United, knows that.
The Special One is tiring of the social media generation, the rush to get away from the training ground each day to attend the next pyrotechnic event.
He already has his hands full with Paul Pogba’s social-media obsession and now his young forward is heading in the same direction.
Mourinho, understandably, is far more interested in progression on the field.
This has been a disjointed season for Rashford, falling further down the pecking order following the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in the January transfer window.
Rashford’s two classy goals in the 2-1 victory over Liverpool last month distorts the story of his season.
Six games, for club and country, have come and gone since then.
He is a fixture on the substitutes’ bench again, getting some minutes here and there against Brighton (15), Swansea (15) and Manchester City (eight).
There are no gifts as a United player.
Every appearance is earned, every minute on the pitch is the reward for hard work, professionalism and dedication to the red shirt.
Rashford is finding all that out. He has scored just 13 times this season: 12 for United and once in an England shirt.
It is a modest return.
Mourinho accepts the responsibility for nurturing one of the country’s genuine talents.
In return he needs Rashford to work with him.
The Nike photoshoots, the private jets, the personal indulgences, such as the fast cars and showy houses, are rewards for high-performance.
Instead, Rashford is in danger of losing touch with reality.
Team of outcasts
A LINE-UP of Forster; Clyne, Alderweireld, Luiz, Stones, Shaw; Yaya Toure, Drinkwater, Barkley; Martial, Berahino would have a decent chance of finishing in the top six of the Premier League.
The great shame, is that for one reason or another, they have all fallen out of favour with their clubs in recent months.
Seven of them - Forster, Clyne, Stones, Shaw, Drinkwater, Barkley and Berahino - are Englishmen.
Stones is the stand-out player from that list, losing his place in Manchester City’s defence and missing out on the Champions League quarter-final through injury.
In a World Cup year, with Gareth Southgate’s squad announcement only a month away, England’s head coach will be troubled by his lack of minutes on the pitch.
QUIET man Christian Eriksen is the latest Tottenham player to have his head turned by interest from other leading clubs.
Eriksen, who had his goal at Stoke chalked off and awarded to Harry Kane, wants parity with some of the Premier League’s biggest earners.
Although the Tottenham forward has a contract with Spurs until 2020, Eriksen knows what his silky skills are worth at the very highest level of the sport.
MANCHESTER CITY did the classy thing by keeping the bar open in the chairman’s lounge for celebrating Liverpool officials after their Champions League victory at the Etihad.
Although it is always difficult to put a brave face on these things, City execs gave the order to keep serving long Anfield dignitaries late into the night.
Given the bad blood between the two clubs after City’s team bus was ambushed before the first leg, it was a gracious touch from Blues bosses.