Does Marcus Rashford need a fresh start away from Manchester United?

Does Marcus Rashford need a fresh start away from Manchester United?

Marcus Rashford is having one of the worst seasons of his short career to date. Recently, he has faced a lot of criticism on social media for his performances at Manchester United, with supporters starting to turn on the homegrown forward. It has been a tough campaign for the England international, which started with back surgery. Players that miss pre-season always take longer to get up to full speed and the recent Covid-19 disruption wouldn’t have helped with his sharpness.

However, at the age of 24, he should now be moving to the next level in terms of performance and output. This season, he has scored three and assisted one across the Premier League and Champions League. He is averaging a goal involvement every 190.3 minutes. During the last three seasons, he has reached double figures for goals in the Premier League. That looks a difficult task from this point in the campaign, as he will need eight goals between now and May.

Last season, he averaged a goal involvement every 128.6 minutes across the two major competitions. It is easy to see that there has been a decline at the beginning of this season. There have been accusations of laziness and that has been a common theme across the entire Manchester United squad. From the outside looking in, Old Trafford doesn’t look a happy place to be playing football and it is impacting a lot of the individuals.

Season xG/90 xA/90
2017/18 0.31 0.17
2018/19 0.36 0.16
2019/20 0.59 0.16
2020/21 0.29 0.11
2021/22 0.17 0.17

Source: fbref (powered by Statsbomb)

The most worrying aspect of Rashford’s game has been the decline in his underlying metrics. There are many reasons for this and the serious injuries he has picked up haven’t helped. During the first half of the 2019/20 season, he was the talisman for Manchester United and it looked like he was taking the step up to become a world class player. His xG/90 of 0.59 is very impressive and emphasises the great form he was in. In this season, he scored a career best of 17 in the Premier League.

During the January transfer window in 2020, Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes. That started the decline for Rashford, as he was no longer the focal point of the attack. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer built the attacking patterns around Fernandes. Although Rashford was still key, he was no longer the main attacking threat.

This summer, he was shunted further down the pecking order when the club brought Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club. This has created a further problem for Rashford, as he is struggling to get into the team. He has partnered Ronaldo in a front two and played on the wing.

However, since breaking through, Rashford has rarely been given a defined role. During the period that he was given a key role, he thrived, but the club have since decided that he is a supporting player. The ‘laziness’ and decline in output can be attributed to this. It could be Rashford no longer feels valued at Old Trafford and he can’t be blamed if that is the case.

In recent years, Manchester United have prioritised marquee signings with many of them being in attack. They have mis-managed the development of Rashford and there is a chance they may make similar mistakes with Mason Greenwood.

The criticism Rashford is facing is fair in terms of his performances. He is no longer the influential attacker that he was. However, mistakes have been made by the club and his development has suffered.

It could be a parting of ways in the next 18 months is best for the future of Marcus Rashford.

Stats taken from fbref (powered by Statsbomb)