The England international is clearly holding the Red Devils back right now and no longer deserves to be an automatic starter
Erik ten Hag probably feels a debt of gratitude towards Marcus Rashford, which is understandable.
The Manchester United forward made sure that the Dutchman’s debut season in the Old Trafford dugout was a successful one by scoring 32 goals across all competitions, as he finally seemed to have come of age.
With the help of first-team strikers’ coach Benni McCarthy, whom Ten Hag hired a month after his own arrival at United, Rashford added a clinical edge to his game that had previously been lacking due to his erratic decision-making in the final third.
More often than not, he was taking his chances and playing the right passes, which helped United clinch a top-four finish and their first trophy in five years in the form of the Carabao Cup.
Rashford earned the right to be the first name on Ten Hag’s teamsheet, and deserved all of the praise that came his way.
But just 12 games into the 2023–24 campaign, Rashford has used up all of the credit he had in the bank. Ten Hag has started the 25-year-old in all but one of United’s fixtures – the third-round Carabao Cup win over Crystal Palace—and he’s only managed to score once.
Rashford is currently enduring an eight-match barren run in front of goal at club level, with his latest ineffective display coming against Copenhagen in the Champions League. United scraped a 1-0 victory in spite of Rashford’s presence, as he seemed to be doing his best to squander almost every promising attack while shirking his defensive duties.
Still, Ten Hag kept him on for the full 90 minutes.
Rashford still enjoys the manager’s full faith because of his exploits last season, but Ten Hag is wrong to blindly trust that his star man will eventually return to form.
Rashford’s composed finishing was a joy to behold last season, as he scored some brilliant goals from a variety of angles, but he’s regressed dramatically in that department in recent months.
The United Academy graduate is still taking plenty of shots but has a shooting accuracy of just 38.9 percent in the Premier League, which puts him way behind the top marksmen for 2023–24 so far.
The fact that Rashford is missing the target so often suggests he is rushing his execution and attempting to score from unrealistic positions. His wastefulness in possession must also be a great source of frustration for his teammates.
Summer signing Rasmus Hojlund has the most reason to complain, having only scored three times since his £72 million ($87 million) switch from Atalanta, despite making a hatful of intelligent runs and getting into great positions. His output would undoubtedly be better if Rashford was playing with his head up and putting a few crosses into the box.
United have struggled to string passing sequences together in general this term, and Rashford must shoulder most of the responsibility for that. He is misplacing simple passes and running down blind alleys week in, week out.
Rashford can be anonymous for lengthy periods, too, and he doesn’t do nearly enough to aid the team’s press when out of possession. Supporters have every right to demand a lot more from a man who is now into his ninth year of senior football at Old Trafford.