Marcus Rashford knows what it is like to be on a hot streak. He has now scored nine goals in his last 10 games for club and country.
The latest came to put United 3-2 at Bramall Lane, putting what he hoped was the finishing touch on a stirring fightback.
United had turned it around. The team was on a hot streak, scoring three goals in a seven minute spell.
But after going 3-2 up, United looked to protect the lead, and it backfired.
Speaking to the MEN, Rashford said: “There was still a bit of time left after my goal but for me and for the team we have to see that time as an opportunity to go and get a fourth or a fifth and really kill the game off.
“Because for me that’s what our strengths are, that’s what we’re good at doing. If we play to our strengths, we win this game, but don’t get me wrong I understand, it’s difficult on the pitch, you get tired physically, mentally, and you tend to just naturally drop into that position.
“But in those moments we just need someone to tell us to get up and go and press the ball and keep the forward thinking in the team, because that’s when we’re at our best.”
Doing what we do best
Rashford says the players shoulder some of the blame himself for United’s failure to add a fourth, but really it was a tactical error from the manager.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took off Anthony Martial and brought on Axel Tuanzebe. In doing so he invited Sheffield United to attack.
It was a defensive substitution, and flipped away from what had brought United back into the game.
With three centre-backs in the first half we were poor and outplayed. Only when Phil Jones was taken off and replaced with Jesse Lingard did we improve and get back into the game.
Solskjaer went for it further, taking Andreas Pereira off, and bringing on Mason Greenwood.
His attacking changes were rewarded. So it would have made some sense to carry on and try to kill the game off, rather than try to defend the lead, and fail.
Reverting to three at the back after it had caused problems earlier in the game was asking for trouble.
As Rashford points out, this United side can attack well when the team is let loose. Bringing on Tuanzebe was like putting the handbrake on a runaway car.
Sheffield United equalised late, and we are all left wondering what might have been, if went for a fourth goal.
Statistics this season suggest United’s defence is better than attack, but the team have begun to click going forward in recent weeks and had the momentum at Bramall Lane.
Midfield leader required
Rashford’s comments indicate some level of frustration with the tactical approach which seemed to cost us the win.
But it also highlighted how United are missing a true midfield leader.
When he says, ‘we just need someone to tell us to get up and go and press the ball’, he highlights how United are lacking a true on pitch general in the style of Roy Keane.
We missed Scott McTominay late here. He’s normally so vocal on the pitch. His absence highlighted a dearth of quality at the position.
Solskjaer needs to start giving proper game time to James Garner, because he has a lot of potential to become what United need. Lets hope he gets a start on Thursday.
And if we are in a similar situation soon, it will be interesting to see if Solskjaer chooses to be bolder and play to United’s strengths.
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