Is it really any wonder Marcus Rashford or Bruno Fernandes’ form has begun to waver lately?
The pair have combined for 40 goals this season, 22 from Fernandes and 18 from Rashford.
The high standards they have set make it easy to see when their performance level dips a little.
The football schedule since the first lockdown has been crazy, and neither Fernandes nor Rashford have had a break.
Fernandes has played 59 matches for club and country in the 257 days since United’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham back on June 19.
Rashford has played 57 times, at an average of one match every 4.5 days.
The scary aspect to this is that the schedule is not slowing down any time soon.
United have five more fixtures in March to fulfil, before the internationals start up again, ahead of an equally busy April.
Both players are to a degree a victim of their own success.
United compete strongly in cup competitions, meaning there are extra matches as opposed to if United exited the Carabao Cup or FA Cup in the early rounds.
And the club’s coaching staff don’t believe there is anybody else in the squad who can measure up to them and replace them effectively.
Looking at their numbers, goals and assists, they would be right, there is nobody near them.
But it is not sustainable to carry on this way, as this week’s performances have shown. It’s why there was such outcry when both players featured against Real Sociedad a week ago in a tie which was already won.
Both Fernandes and Rashford risk injury with the lack of rest they are being given. That would be devastating for United.
It seems nothing has been learned from Rashford’s back injury in January 2020, when being overplayed was a factor.
Both players are set for prominent roles at Euro 2021, and won’t get much of a summer off. Henry Winter even says Rashford has a shoulder injury which might require a summer operation.
Their performance levels are dipping, leading to scrutiny from the media, and extra mental pressure on the pair, who want to maintain their own high standards, even if their bodies won’t let them.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to do more to help them out, while this is also an after effect of a miserable transfer window last summer where the club’s attacking options were not strengthened sufficiently.
At the moment it feels like both Fernandes and Rashford are heading to breaking point, and nothing is being done to stop it.
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