Marcus Rashford must now do more for the Man Utd team after serving as the team’s primary man last year.
In their weekend loss to Brighton, Manchester United experienced both good and bad things with Marcus Rashford.
He was either their major creator or their chief waster of opportunities as United were soundly defeated at home by a quality Brighton team, depending on who you ask. Rashford deserves a lot of credit for what he did last season, but it doesn’t shield him from criticism, and there has been no shortage of it in the aftermath of the weekend.
He carried United for a significant portion of the previous season, bringing him to a true world-class level. However, the true test of a world-class player is someone who can sustain, if not improve upon, that level of brilliance. The 25-year-old’s performance over the weekend seemed to indicate that he is still adjusting to United’s recent changes, and on Saturday, he was guilty of trying to handle everything by himself, something he frequently felt compelled to do last season.
While under Erik ten Hag he spent a lot of time playing as a single artist in attack, he now needs to make the most of his supporting cast, especially Rasmus Hojlund who may end up becoming the new headline act. Against Brighton, the Danish international stood out for his mobility in the final third, but he had trouble getting the ball into the box where he could have scored a number of times.
In fact, one of the rare times he received the ball from Rashford, he did score, but the goal was overturned after a thorough VAR review. Supporters’ frustration was compounded by the fact that, despite Rashford’s apparent energy during the game, he made the mistake of trying to go it alone too frequently rather than trying to pass the ball to Hojlund.
The England international may create a very dangerous relationship with the new player if he changes his approach and has faith that Hojlund will be in the correct place to receive his crosses into the box. Given that he is still getting used to playing with Hojlund and is obviously stuck in the routines from last season when it was Wout Weghorst alongside him instead, it is somewhat understandable why he was so afraid to do so against Brighton.
Thankfully, the bar has since been raised, but Rashford’s performance must also improve if United is to turn around their season and make the most of their star attacking acquisition. Additionally, it puts a greater responsibility on United’s coaches to get the most out of the pair. In the coming weeks, as they work to assemble a new attack force, a lot of attention should be paid to how they interchange roles during practice.
Rashford must also possess the maturity to understand that there will be times when he must forgo scoring opportunities in order to pass the ball to his teammates and that he can still make a difference even if he is not the one who scores.
Even though the season has gotten off to such a slow start, there is still cause for optimism, with Rashford and Hojlund’s prospective relationship serving as a major part of that. Although they are still very much a work in progress, they have good enough justification to continue.