Since the start of the season, Marcus Rashford has not been mentioned as much as usual given the limelight that is currently on Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and other attackers at the club.
The 23-year-old went through a lot over the summer, as he was one of the players who missed a decisive penalty in England’s defeat to Italy in the European Championship final. On top of that, he has been on the sidelines for the last two to three months following a successful surgery to his shoulder, which has been bothering him as well as his back injuries in recent seasons. These issues have prevented him from playing to the limits of his ability.
During Rashford’s absence, Paul Pogba has been utilised as a wide player on the left flank, allowing him to be more threatening higher up the pitch and limiting his defensive duties. This is thought to be a temporary measure. With the side’s lack of control and dominance in midfield, the Frenchman should return to the middle alongside either Fred or Nemanja Matic, as he is not playing to his best in a role that’s not for him.
Jadon Sancho has the capability to play on either flank and has had some game time so far this season. However, he is still attempting to settle back into English football and is suffering from a mental block, with United’s style of play and tactics seemingly not suiting his game. Sensibly, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to ease him into the side rather than throwing him into the deep end.
So, the return of Marcus Rashford is required for the team and the manager, as the side are showing inconsistencies in attack owing to a lack of clear-cut chances being created. Against Aston Villa, United attempted 28 shots, four on target, and two goal-scoring chances created throughout the whole game, with one of them being from the penalty spot.
At home to Everton, the side’s style of play was slow with the ball being played sideways and backwards. The signs were clear that the team did not have a plan or a structure going into the game. Time and time again, the majority of the players took too much time in possession before deciding what to do next, leaving a lot of questions on the manager.
Although Marcus Rashford is like Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood, in that he often looks to do everything himself, he is also the type of player who can link up well with his team-mates and help to get the best out the other attackers. United have a positive plan going forward when he is playing. They look to attack down the left and consider him as the go-to man owing to his movement on and off the ball.
Solskjaer has previously advised that Rashford will be available after the international break, with rumours rising of some friendly matches to take place behind closed doors to assist him with game time. When considering United’s fixtures for the month, facing Leicester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Atalanta, Marcus Rashford will be desperately required, even if coming off the bench, as he has gained a reputation as a big game player over the last couple of seasons.
With his presence and quality down the left, it will allow Pogba to return into the midfield pivot and Sancho to play and perform on the right flank, his favoured position. This should lead United to have more balance in midfield and attack. Given the current circumstances and lack of system implemented on the squad, the team will look to be more organised in and out of possession when Marcus Rashford is back.
When free from injury and at full fitness, he is considered as one of the most dangerous players in the league and is more than capable in producing double figures in goals and assists. His most prolific campaign so far was during the 2019/20 season, where he achieved 17 goals and seven assists in 32 league appearances, proving himself as a goal scorer and as a creative playmaker.
Overall, Marcus Rashford is a level below the world class bracket but if he continues to work on his final third decision making and finishing ability, he will enter that group soon enough. Having already won the Europa League, EFL Cup and FA Cup, if he can individually contribute towards a couple of league titles and trophies over the next five to ten years, then he will be considered as a club legend, especially as he is expected to spend his full career at Manchester United.
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