Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick admits he doesn’t know why Marcus Rashford is struggling for form after another disappointing night for the forward in Monday’s 1-0 win against Aston Villa in the FA Cup.
Manchester United progressed to the fourth round following a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, courtesy of Scott McTominay’s eighth-minute goal, although it was another struggle for the home side.
Among the United players to struggle was Rashford, whose second-half substitution was met by sarcastic cheers from some supporters, while other fans countered by serenading the England forward.
The 24-year-old has only scored three times this season since returning from shoulder surgery in October, with his last strike coming on October 30. Rashford only managed ten club goals in 2021.
Rangnick dropped Rashford for the win over Burnley and defeat to Wolves last week but the forward returned to the team against Villa with Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo out injured.
When Rangnick was asked for the reasons behind Rashford plummeted form :
“Actually I don’t know,” Rangnick said of Rashford’s form.
“He’s trying hard, he’s in training, he was doing really well in the last couple of days, that’s why he was quite rightly in the starting XI.
“I think in the first-half we found him quite often, we also tried to get him into the box, in the second-half that was not often the case and that’s why at the end of the game I decided to make two changes with Anthony Elanga and Jesse Lingard.
“For strikers, it’s important that they score goals on and off, that there are moments of success, of course, it would be good for Marcus if he could score a goal but as long as he is trying, as long as he is training well I don’t see much of a problem.”
What has happened to Rashford’s form?
Marcus Rashford had endured a forgettable season so far and has found it challenging to get back to his best form since returning from injury in October.
After his specific operation, it’s typically expected to take 12 weeks for recovery, which he received in early August.
The England star was expected to be back in action early November but has already returned to full training and even scored in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Wednesday, October 6.
He has played 12 matches this season across all competitions and has scored three goals while assisting once in the process.
He will need to do much better to gain a foothold in the team due to the increased competition from the summer signings.
Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports, Rashford conveyed that he knows he has not been in his usual form and would get better moving forward.
He pointed out the lack of consistency in terms of minutes as the reason while admitting that he already feels much better about himself.
“Getting 90 minutes is key. And that was my first 90 minutes against Norwich since I think May or something like that.I know how I am as a player and need to know I can do 90 minutes at a high intensity. From there I can then go on to do better things. Now I’ve done that, I’m looking forward to the next run of games. I feel sharper in training, still feeling.”
Alan Shearer on Rashford
Speaking at half-time during the FA Cup tie, BBC Sport pundit Shearer says he saw glimpses of improvement from the winger, but believes he is not ‘enjoying’ playing.
‘It’s a little bit better, I think, in that first half,’ Shearer said.
‘I get that he’s had injuries, I get that he’s struggling with a little bit of confidence, amazing work off the pitch.
‘But certainly a lot of the times this season, it looks as if everything is a chore. It looks like hard work for him. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying his football as much.”
‘I get that. It’s a learning curve, you learn how to get over that.
Last season and was forced to play through the issue without surgery for months. All this played a part leading to his current form, but he is bound to get better in the future.
Is it because of Rangnick’s formation?
He posed lots of questions early on when he was down that left-hand side.
Shearer said about the lack of width before the game.
‘That hasn’t been the case, he’s done well down that side.
And then he’s switched to the right-hand side. So, a little bit better from him tonight.’
In the second half, Rashford was presented with a golden opportunity to double United’s lead, but failed to capitalise on it due to a lack of movement.
Is Rashford Unhappy at Manchester United?
After the limp 1-0 defeat by Wolves, it was claimed that a host of players are keen to quit the club – although academy graduate Rashford said he is not one of them.
On social media, he posted:
‘We’ve all been disappointed with recent performances and we’ve been as disappointed with the news coverage questioning our commitment to not only the manager and the coaching staff but the club.
I have endless respect for both and I’m looking forward to bettering my game under the staff at Manchester United.’
His statement then continued with Rashford claiming he plans to do his talking on the pitch and playing down suggestions he is ‘sulking’.
‘I’m not sulking, I’m not unhappy, am I disappointed in some of my recent performances? Of course I am.
I’m my own biggest critic,’ he added.
‘It’s been a tough start but I’m determined to prove my worth.
My dedication and my desire to be here should never be in question. I love this club.’
A better future?
The Englishman has been on the sidelines for a long time and would naturally feel rusty as a result.
He suffered a shoulder injury last season and was forced to play through the issue without surgery for months.
All this played a part leading to his current form, but he is bound to get better in the future.
He already mentioned how he feels good again through the training sessions he has been involved in so far.
There is a fantastic player in Rashford, who is still only 24 years old. We have seen him score and assist and create and run himself ragged enough times for club and country to know that.
United will host Middlesbrough in the fourth round next month after Scott McTominay’s eighth-minute header decided a watchable contest with Villa.