The Marcus Rashford Enigma: Can he Really Help United Towards the Title?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United

Is Rashford truly the man to take United forward?

At a must-not-lose game at Anfield, in a game where the elite had to step up, Marcus Rashford registered an extraordinary seven offsides and failed to play in a furious Edinson Cavani and truly looked far from being a threat once again.

It’s performance like this of late that have called into question whether Manchester United would be better off currently with the Uruguayan up top and if Rashford truly needs to drop out of the side.

The game at Anfield proved he still isn't the main man

Despite the game at Anfield not being one you would expect United to dominate, these are the type of games Rashford has excelled in the past at United. Looking back at previous games, performances against Liverpool and Manchester City have seen Rashford excel when playing breakaway counter-attacking football. Especially considering that Rashford has three goals previously against Liverpool, which is only bettered by Wayne Rooney (6), Andy Cole (4) and Ryan Giggs (4) in the Premier League.

Despite question marks over Rashford’s performance at Anfield, without hindsight, it was most likely the right tactical call prior to the game. Much has been made about Liverpool’s highline this season, and with the inclusion of the pacey Martial and Rashford with Bruno Fernandes and Pogba in behind to supply passes, it was evident that it was a weakness Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was looking to exploit.

Not that it excuses it, but this might be the reason for Rashford’s eagerness to get in behind, resulting in him accumulating seven offsides. Regardless of his intent, it was another stat weighing heavily against the Englishman

He still brings goal contributions, but do they read better than we assume?

When Rashford is at his best, his pace coupled with his trickery makes him a frightening prospect for any defence in the league. Rashford can also link up brilliantly with the likes of Fernandes, Martial and Pogba and his ability to play both on the wing and up top also means he starts most games.

Despite Rashford’s stats looking impressive this season, the Mancunian has scored most of his goals in batches and with just four goals in his last 13 games, there are still question marks over Rashford’s ability to consistently put the ball in the back of the net and it's one which needs addressing.

Add this to there being two better finishers than him on the bench in Cavani and Greenwood, there is extreme pressure on the striker for his place. And in truth, despite Rashford’s pace and trickery, this is something that United have in abundance with the likes of Pogba, Martial and Greenwood which makes it not a necessity for Rashford to make the starting XI,

A player like Cavani can add goals week in, week out, but it seems Rashford cannot. His hat-trick against RB Leipzig, and a double against Sheffield United mean Rashford has only score in 10 out of the 32 games he has played in; this is far from good enough for a title challenge.

The future: Will Sancho take his place?

The future of United is as unpredictable as any. The club are clearly moving in the right direction under Solskjaer, but they are also far from establishing themselves as concrete title challengers, which was proved in the loss to bottom of the table Sheffield United.

However, one thing is for certain and that's how we will not hear the end of the Jadon Sancho business. Sancho is still in hot form for Borussia Dortmund and with nine goals in 16 Bundesliga games, the Englishman's worth continues to be one that United must acquire.

If Sancho does one day sign, Rashford might just be the man to drop out, with Greenwood boasting better goals per game ratio in recent months, just as Anthony Martial has outscored Rashford when he playing down the middle.

Rashford will not leave United anytime soon, and in fact, he may never. But relying on a man so inconsistent and one who cannot seem to align his exceptional physical talents with a decent footballing IQ is harming the club right now and they need someone like Sancho to come in and add more than just the odd flair here and there and add something United have missed for years: consistency.

By Harry Charlwood

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