Marcus Rashford’s Football Journey
Football changes very quickly and nobody would agree with that more than Marcus Rashford. It has been a rollercoaster career for him that has featured lots of peaks and troughs.
He burst onto the scene as a teenager and emerged as one of the best talents produced by Manchester United in years. Following this debut season, he established himself as a key player for club and country.
Off the pitch, he became an influential figure as he tackled the government on their funding of school meals for children. Rashford was once a child relying on these and he wanted future generations to receive support. During this period, he was suffering with a back injury and his form dipped.
Challenges and Criticisms
There were a lot of people that criticised Rashford for taking his eye off his football. It was an easy stick to beat him with. The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo also caused him issues, as he was no longer the attacking talisman.
Earlier this year, the Portuguese international was sold and Rashford once again became the key man under Erik ten Hag. At last year’s World Cup, Rashford found form and he carried that into the restart. There was a period of time when he was arguably the most in-form attacker in European football. It looked like Manchester United had their talisman back.
Expectations vs Reality
The expectation this season was that Manchester United would push on under Erik ten Hag fuelled by Marcus Rashford’s goals. Last season, he scored 29 goals across all competitions and showed a level of consistency that suggested he was ready to become one of the best players in Europe. However, this season has been a struggle for him so far. Rashford has only contributed one goal and one assist in eight league matches. In the most recent fixture, it spoke volumes that he was withdrawn with United losing 1-0 at home to Brentford. Subsequently, his team-mates turned the game around and earned a vital three points. Rashford will be concerned that they did that without him on the pitch, but he won’t blame Ten Hag for replacing him. The England international has fallen far short of the expectations that he will set for himself.
Analysing the Stats
It is a small sample size, but there has been a drop off in his production. Rashford is averaging 0.37 expected goals (xG) per ninety minutes. Last season, this was 0.48 xG. It isn’t a huge drop, but it is one that does show that Rashford isn’t as dangerous in the final third. In front of goal, he looks to be lacking confidence. Rashford has had 31 shots at an average of 4.17 shots per ninety minutes. This is actually an increase from last season’s average of 3.38. The percentage that hit the target dropped though, from 45.4% to 22.6%. This is a significant drop-off that underlines his lack of confidence. Considering all of the stats, it is interesting that the xG has dropped, but his number of shots has increased. This suggests Rashford is taking shots from poorer shot locations and this is evidence of a player desperately trying to fire himself into form. For the team, this could be a negative, as Rashford is wasting a lot of the attacking situations.
Conclusion and Forward Outlook
It is too soon to write Rashford off. He is still going to be key to Manchester United this season and remains their talisman in attack. However, in the short term, his form is a huge concern. Ten Hag needs to get Rashford to play less selfishly. If he does this, the form of both player and team should improve.
Stats taken from fbref (powered by Opta).