Manchester United were fortunate to draw 1-1 with Chelsea at Old Trafford last month. The performance was a marginal improvement after a defeat against Arsenal but it was far from good enough. United fans were understandably not happy with the display.
They were also not happy with Marcus Rashford, among others who started in that match. Rashford looked pedestrian, disinterested and his embarrassing work rate stood out with a 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo running harder than him. Reece James’ marauding runs forward weren’t tracked by Rashford and Ronaldo looked disgusted doing his teammate’s leg work down the left channel.
Ralf Rangnick asked Rashford and Anthony Elanga to swap sides just before half-time and that’s likely because he knew the latter would actually track back. Rashford wasn’t working for the shirt and that was allowing James to hurt United.
United supporters can forgive Rashford for his lack of form but they can’t forgive him for failing to do the basics. Rashford was raised in Wythenshawe and he’s a product of the club’s academy. He should understand that supporters demand commitment on the pitch, as the bare minimum. Rashford didn’t look fully committed against Chelsea and that certainly wasn’t for the first time this season.
Rashford was substituted with 10 minutes to play and after the full-time whistle had gone he was spotted sharing a quick embrace with Thomas Tuchel. The footage went viral and some supporters joked that was the most he’d actually run all night.
It was hoped this campaign would be the season Rashford rediscovered his best form. The player has continued to regress and now looks devoid of confidence instead. Rashford has been unable to arrest his slump and he’s now at a crossroads in his career.
The Manchester Evening News revealed that Rashford was considering his future following Rangnick’s decision to leave him on the bench in the Manchester derby. Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba led the attack that day and that was enough to reveal Rangnick’s opinion about Rashford. Rangnick has always claimed Rashford performs in training yet doesn’t on matchdays.
Sources close to the player have indicated that Rashford is training well and in good spirits, although they also concede it is not transmitting to matchdays. Rashford is clearly a player at the club that Rangnick formed an opinion long ago.
The forward has been consistently played out of his best position – the left wing – under Rangnick. That is hardly a criticism of the German considering Jadon Sancho’s improvement on the left, however, it has reduced the likelihood of Rashford being able to rediscover his form. Rangnick doesn’t trust Rashford and you can’t blame the interim manager for taking that stance.
That stance isn’t conducive to Rashford returning to his best, though. Rangnick has just one game left in charge at United and his departure and Erik ten Hag’s appointment should provide Rashford with an opportunity to prove he has a future at the club.
Rashford will benefit from an elite coach and tactical input, something he’s not had since Jose Mourinho. Ten Hag is expected to give the player his trust following his arrival at Carrington and it will be down to Rashford to repay it. Rashford should be gone by January if he doesn’t seize that chance and if he continues to underperform. He also needs to show some fight for the shirt again.
Some fans have given up on Rashford, while others’ patience is wearing increasingly thin and that was evident after the Chelsea match just a few weeks ago. Rashford’s embrace with Tuchel was also a point of interest, among the hysteria on social media.
Although Rashford has been disappointing for two seasons now, it seems there would be no shortage of top clubs open to signing him from United. Tuchel has always been a fan of Rashford and he lauded the academy graduate back in December 2020.
“I have met him as an opponent three times and every time I’ve met a calm and humble guy and a nice person, which is amazing. I like this mixture a lot,” Tuchel said. “He’s a big threat with his speed, with his ability to score, with his determination and his finishing.
“He’s very precise, taking shots inside and outside of the box. He is super rapid on counter-attacks and strong in the air with headers. He’s had a big impact and it’s nice to see guys like him from the academy having such a big impact in a big, big club like United.”
The Rashford that Tuchel described has disappeared at United and it’s hoped Ten Hag will be the manager to find him again.
Rashford best enjoy this summer at Carrington because it will be his last at the club if he doesn’t improve.