A new opportunity is on the horizon for Marcus Rashford after the managerial change at Old Trafford. Manchester United are hoping that Ralf Rangnick will lead them back up the Premier League table. There were positive signs during his first match in charge against Crystal Palace. One of those was the formation change to 4-2-2-2. It remains to be seen if this will be the preferred formation for the long run, but if it is, there will be a great chance for Rashford to show his quality as a centre forward.
Since breaking through, Rashford has been moved around the forward line to facilitate other big name players. Romelu Lukaku, Edinson Cavani and now Cristiano Ronaldo have all restricted the minutes given to Rashford as a central striker. There was a six month period under Old Gunnar Solskjaer where he was the most important player in the team. This was during the 2019/20 season prior to the signing of Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese international took over that particular label, but it did show the talismanic qualities that the homegrown attacker possesses.
Rangnick enjoys working with young players and he will see the potential of Rashford. During the German’s first match in charge, the 24-year-old partnered Cristiano Ronaldo in attack. His role is to add verticality to the forward line and stretch the opposition defence.
Although Ronaldo is a smart operator, he isn’t likely to run in behind opposition defences regularly. This is important to the way Rangnick wants to set up at Old Trafford, which means Rashford could play a very prominent role.
During his limited minutes this season, Rashford has contributed three goals and an assist across the Premier League and Champions League. It is a steady start that has been impacted by injury, but he now has the match fitness to significantly improve his contributions. If he is playing in a central role, it would be expected that he carries a much bigger threat.
Against Palace, Rashford didn’t manage to have a shot, but he did cause a threat during the match. He had five shot creating actions, showing his ability to link up play in the final third. If he is partnering Ronaldo, he will realise that he needs to tailor his game to help get the best from the world class Portuguese player. There were some promising signs in that regard on Sunday.
The one concern for Rangnick will be Rashford’s pressing figures. During his time on the pitch, he made 10 pressures in 75 minutes. From the forward players selected, only Ronaldo pressed less frequently. The most damning stat for Rashford is that Mason Greenwood made 11 pressures in 29 minutes. It could be that the teenager comes into the frame to displace Rashford if these numbers are maintained.
It is early in the Rangnick era and there will be time on the training ground for Rashford to become a more effective presser out of possession. He will need to if he is to keep his place in the starting eleven.
This feels like it could be a new chapter in the career of Rashford and could signal the resumption as a centre forward. He could prove to be a huge player for the Rangnick era at Old Trafford.