Marcus Rashford’s impressive performance up front has handed Manchester United a positive dilemma for the games ahead.
While most likely Rashford will be moved back to left wing when Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial are available, it is nice to have the option.
For around a year now, playing Rashford up front has not seemed viable, when it really should be.
This extends back to United’s woeful run of form last September and October when Martial was out with injury.
Rashford toiled fruitlessly up front, with the low point being a 1-0 loss to Newcastle.
These performances indicated that Rashford may not be a striker after all, and when he shone out wide for England, it was another sign he should revert to playing on the left wing.
Martial soon returned and Rashford switched back out to the left, when he went on the best goalscoring run of his career.
The conundrum over his best position had no longer become a debate. It was clear cut, Rashford was and still is United’s best option out on the left.
Time to think again?
It is fair to look back now and see more clearly that Rashford’s problems up front were not just down to him.
He did not get the service, in a United side which at the time lacked both Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes – with Andreas Pereira and Dan James both relied upon too heavily.
United are a different proposition currently. While there are defensive issues to be fixed, any team with Fernandes in the line up are going to create chances. The Portuguese star made six key passes on Saturday.
Give Rashford a run up front as a striker with Fernandes supplying him and he is likely to score a hatful.
On Saturday he scored one and provided two assists. It was the complete centre-forward performance.
It was a breath of fresh air to see, and particularly interesting because Rashford’s form on the left has been up and down, at the end of last season and the start of this year.
In the short-term, Martial, Cavani, and Mason Greenwood will all be vying for starts up front too.
Rashford will revert to the left, but playing him up front is an option which should be entertained more regularly.
This is a good sign for long term too. Cavani is only here on a two-year deal, and during this time United will hope to find a winger who can play regularly on the left.
This could enable Rashford to develop his game into a centre-forward long-term.
In a similar way to Wayne Rooney’s stints out wide and up front, Rashford is good enough to make both work.
He is just 22 and has so much more to give. Saturday was a reminder that this is in multiple positions, not just one.
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