Marcus Rashford played his part as Manchester United whacked Southampton 9-0.
Rashford netted United’s second goal, and forced a third when his cross was diverted for an own goal by Jan Bednarek.
If this match proved one thing to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it should be that Rashford is at his best when he is playing on United’s left side.
It comes naturally
Playing wide left seems to come naturally to Rashford. Everything seems more instinctive to him.
Against Arsenal he played wide right and it didn’t click. It was not a surprise he was substituted with 10 minutes to go at The Emirates.
Rashford is usually good enough to make something happen wherever he plays. He has scored goals when he has started from the right before, including in the Champions League at home to Istanbul Basaksehir.
The issue is quite simple, Rashford is just better on United’s left. He had 67 touches in 58 minutes against Southampton before United brought him off to give Dan James a run out.
Link-up with Shaw
The underrated aspect of playing Rashford on the left of United’s attack is the link up this provides with Luke Shaw.
Shaw was terrific against Southampton, creating five chances and providing two assists in 45 minutes. Rashford deserves some of the credit for helping him out and vice versa.
The two players have developed a strong understanding. Against Sheffield United, Rashford found it tougher playing with Alex Telles. They don’t understand each other the same way Rashford does with Shaw.
On occasions where Anthony Martial plays on the left, Shaw has also found it a little trickier. With Rashford, the pair bring out the best in one another.
United must find other right-sided alternatives
Solskjaer needs to settle on Rashford and Shaw for the left side, and leave them, barring instances of fatigue and need to rotate.
When Edinson Cavani plays up front, Anthony Martial has occasionally been switched to the left, and then Rashford out to the right.
Instead, Cavani must stay central, Rashford left, and then if Solskjaer still wants to squeeze Martial in, the Frenchman must play on the right or not at all.
Otherwise you end up with two disrupted players, Martial has yet to play well on the left this season, and Rashford on the right.
Against Arsenal, Rashford was moved to the right wing to accommodate Paul Pogba on the left, before injury to McTominay prompted a reshuffle and Martial played on the left.
United should stop shunting Rashford around, and keep him where he does the most damage. He isn’t always perfect, but he has 16 goals and eight assists this season.
Mason Greenwood, Dan James, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, and even Anthony Martial should battle it out for the right wing spot, while Amad Diallo might be ready quite soon if his under-23 debut performance was anything to go by.
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