Why does brilliant youngster flop for Manchester United but excel for his country?

The paradoxical situation that means many of England’s senior squad have a greater chance of getting football at international than with their clubs is well-worn.
At times it has applied to Marcus Rashford, especially after the arrival of Alexis Sanchez at Old Trafford; Jose Mourinho’s decision to plump for yet another ageing, experienced signing shunting him further down the Manchester United pecking order.
In his last four England matches, Rashford has three goals and an assist to his name. Even as England toiled against Spain and Switzerland in the first international break of the season, the forward netted a goal on each occasion.
More recently, Rashford returned to Old Trafford on the back of an excellent display of endeavour and craft; setting up Raheem Sterling’s opener before netting the second in England’s historic 3-2 victory in Seville.

Why can’t he replicate that form with United?

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Of course, there are external factors at play. Gareth Southgate’s England are the opposite of Jose Mourinho’s United; a dynamic, close-knit team where the manager empowers his young players to make things happen without fear of making a mistake.
Mourinho had Rashford chasing Marcos Alonso up and down Chelsea’s left flank for most of his first game back after that England success. The winger’s game suffered, although he did puncture a quiet game by setting up Anthony Martial’s second goal of the match.

Against Juventus on Tuesday, he was even more anonymous. Rashford offered nothing out on the right; it was Ashley Young who provided all the attacking thrust from that position.

What can be done about it?

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Rashford’s position hasn’t helped. He’s never been able to operate as effectively out on the right as he can cutting in from the left; for both England and United.
But United need an option out on that flank and Rashford has not shown a real determination to nail down that spot in the side after months of intermittent gametime.
Romelu Lukaku is struggling even more than Rashford, so perhaps moving the Englishman into the central striker’s role could spark a revival.
But Rashford will need to show far more quality and endeavour than he has in his last three United games – counting the 3-2 win over Newcastle as well – to reverse his slump.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.