Marcus Rashford remains the talk of the town at Manchester United as the Erik ten Hag era begins at Old Trafford. After enduring an underwhelming season, the forward is likely to be given an opportunity to redeem himself following the Dutchman’s appointment as the new club manager.
Amongst the team’s most scathed players last season, the 24-year-old found himself held accountable for his substandard performances on numerous occasions. He lacked the application, desire, and consistency to nail down a spot in the starting XI, contributing only five goals and two assists in 31 appearances across all competitions (stats via Transfermarkt).
Having witnessed a steep decline in his overall impact on the pitch, the English forward’s failure can be attributed to several factors, including a naïve understanding of his strengths, the repeated arrivals of out-and-out number nines, and the evident lack of self-accountability on part of the player.
However, with his role, now, expected to be reassessed under Ten Hag, Marcus Rashford will be keen on getting back to his best next season. Moreover, with the Red Devils likely to add another dynamic forward amongst the ranks this summer, the 24-year-old will be looking to redeem himself, having lacked the self-confidence and mindset to rectify his abysmal form last season.
A Defined Role
While primarily understood to serve as a traditional winger, Rashford’s underlying numbers from notable seasons suggest that the forward performs best when deployed as a second striker playing off the central striker. Hence, it is no surprise that the forward’s most notable contributions came at a time when the team’s forward line comprised of an intelligent hold-up striker in Anthony Martial, an explosive figure in Mason Greenwood, and Rashford himself.
The Englishman is known for his ability to make searing runs into the box whilst also serving as a potent threat on the counter-attack. However, following the arrivals of Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo combined with the inconsistency of Martial, Rashford unsurprisingly found himself struggling to create for the team’s central strikers.
Marcus Rashford – One Last Chance pic.twitter.com/ZhMHymHmYm
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For a player known for his ability to take on defenders before aiming for a goal, the lack of players to combine with alongside a failure to adapt negatively impacted his performances, partly owing to his lack of creativity in the final-third. He failed to develop into a well-rounded forward following his breakthrough into the first-team under former United manager, Louis van Gaal.
With Ronaldo’s introduction, the winger’s performances further dwindled owing to the lack of forwards who were willing to open up spaces in a bid to exploit the opposition’s defensive set-up last season. As a result, Rashford’s failure to impact games is reflected in his numbers, with the player having averaged just 1.93 shots, 1.27 dribbles, and 32.78 passes per 90 minutes in the recently concluded campaign.
Moreover, with teams having figured out his modus operandi in possession around the 18-yard-box, the winger inevitably failed to develop his game over the course of the season. A consequence of his decision to narrow down his game as opposed to expanding on his attributes in the initial years following his senior debut, last season served as a stark reminder of the player’s limitations when compared to the world-class figures in his position.
Moreover, having lacked self-accountability on the pitch – evident from his lacklustre work rate – alongside the failure to develop into a somewhat creative outlet for the team, Marcus Rashford is unlikely to thrive under Ten Hag unless he improves his poor decision-making and finds a way to boost his contributions across the attacking third next season.
The Need For Self-Accountability
While last season’s number clearly shows a limitation to Rashford’s ability on the pitch, the winger’s nonchalance in making the best of his opportunities only added to the criticism faced by him throughout the campaign. Having lacked the work rate and desire to emerge as a stand-out performer, the forward’s apathy, alongside several teammates, shone through with the player having been found lacking the professionalism to follow the manager’s tactics on numerous occasions.
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Moreover, having been reduced to a bench player owing to his lacklustre performances, the winger’s struggles were amplified by his inability to deliver promising performances throughout the season. Scoring in the 22nd percentile for expected assists, 46th for crosses, and 33rd for passes completed, the winger’s inability to address his inadequacies inevitably failed him in clawing himself out of a sour patch of form last season.
Now, however, with Ten Hag likely to gradually reintegrate him into the line-up, Marcus Rashford will be needing to address his limitations and work within the manager’s principles. Given that there is a possibility that he may lose his place in the starting line-up, all eyes will be on the 24-year-old as he aims to redeem himself under the Dutchman’s watchful eyes next season.
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