Marcus Rashford’s performance for Manchester United was not good. It bordered somewhere between disappointing and abysmal, depending on criticial you wish to be.
Rashford’s substitution late on was well overdue, and he looks like a player who needs a long spell on the sidelines.
Manager Ralf Rangnick is at a loss to explain Rashford’s total loss of form. Speaking after the game, he said he was taken aback because the player had been playing well in training.
Rangnick told the MEN: “Actually I don’t know. He’s trying hard, he’s in training, he was doing really well in the last couple of days, that’s why he was quite rightly in the starting XI.
“I think in the first-half we found him quite often, we also tried to get him into the box, in the second-half that was not often the case and that’s why at the end of the game I decided to make two changes.”
On form, Rashford really did not deserve to be in the side, even if he had played well in training. But United were shorthanded by injuries to summer signings Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho.
With the team initially reverting to a 4-2-3-1, there was hope Rashford could rediscover his old form, and while he looked a bit better in the first half when United used that system, he was still indecisive and failed to offer a threat.
Problem may be in his head
With Rashford seemingly impressing behind the scenes, it appears Rashford’s issue could be a psychological one, wilting under pressure in front of an expectant crowd.
It’s odd this should happen, because Rashford is a player who has taken everything in his stride so far in his career, scoring two goals on his debut at Old Trafford in 2016 instead of getting stage fright.
You could argue some of his best form for United came during the lockdown, but not all. He was impressive in the first half of the 2019/20 campaign when crowds were in attendance, but somewhere he has got out of sync with his game and is putting too much pressure on himself.
He looked utterly dejected after he went off, in full knowledge he had not played well.
United fans will be both critical and supportive. He won’t get special treatment above others, if anything there is more pressure on him because of what we know he is capable of.
Rangnick hired psychologist Sascha Lense when he came to the club, and he should spend some time with Rashford if he has not already and try and get to the root of the issue. If he can’t, then its time for a spell out of the side.
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