Marcus Rashford’s season for Manchester United seemed to prove one thing, he is a better player when out on the left.
An injury to Anthony Martial early on meant Rashford was pushed into a role as a central striker. He found it tough, looking too isolated, and at times looked like he really wasn’t enjoying it.
After switching back out onto the left flank, Rashford’s season took off. He was instrumental in wins over Manchester City and Tottenham, and scored 19 goals before picking up an injury.
Speaking to the UTD Podcast, Rashford said: “When you are on the left, you can create a lot more things on your own, giving that little bit more to the team.
“Whereas when you are playing up front, sometimes you are isolated and need someone in midfield who can find passes for 90 minutes of a game, so you can disappear in games sometimes as a number nine.
“Now I’m enjoying having the freedom to mix between the two – and I think it suits us well at the moment as Anthony (Martial) likes to drift to the left and drop deep as well.”
As The Mail notes, 15 of Rashford’s 19 goals for United came when he played out on the left, as opposed to up front.
Rashford is also right to acknowledge the interchanging dynamic he has with Anthony Martial, another striker who has a tendency to drift wide.
Together they are an unpredictable combination as they look to help each other out. It’s just a shame that injuries have stopped their partnership developing.
What Rashford should take into account though, is that when he was up front earlier this season, he didn’t have enough quality support.
He might find he enjoys it a lot more with Bruno Fernandes playing in behind him, and possibly next season Jadon Sancho too.
He should remain open minded as his career develops, and look to Wayne Rooney for inspiration.
By coincidence, United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney made similar comments this weekend.
Speaking to The Times, Rooney admitted he didn’t particularly like playing as a lone striker either – despite this resulting in a 34 goal season in 2010/11.
Rooney said: “The hardest thing to learn is patience. For me, it wasn’t difficult mastering the runs to make or the right finishing techniques but the mental challenge of playing No 9 should not be underestimated.
“For most of my career I’ve played in deeper positions and my instinct is to drop off and get on the ball. Fighting that urge to come back and get on the ball was tough.”
Rooney went on to discuss how much he enjoyed playing alongside Ruud van Nistelrooy in his early days at United, a player who really was a classic penalty box goalscorer.
Odion Ighalo has brought a bit of that back to Old Trafford, a player who like to stay central, high, and has terrific touch and helps with the build up as well as scoring.
It is unclear if the Nigerian will re-sign; if he does, it could be good for Rashford, as it will help his game having a focal point.
There will be times in his career when Rashford will be asked to lead the line for United as a central striker, like Rooney. For the youngster, it’s a case of adapting, and adjusting to the role and as his predecessor suggests, trying to stay patient.
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