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Marcus Rashford: Manchester United Star's Loss of Form Compounds Woes for Erik ten Hag
- Marcus Rashford's poor form is one of Manchester United's underlying issues this season
- The forward has only scored once this campaign but has chipped in with a couple of assists
- Against Galatasaray, he missed an opportunity that seemed way easier to score than to miss
October 3, 52nd minute. Manchester United vs. Galatasaray at Old Trafford. The game is finely poised at one-all. Christian Eriksen finds a darting Marcus Rashford with acres of space to exploit on the right flank.
The England international makes a beeline for Fernando Muslera's goal. The Old Trafford faithful are up on their feet. This is the moment they get back in front.
Rashford rarely misses one-on-one chances. With only Muslera to beat, the winger hesitates on his next course of action as two defenders close him down. He chooses to find his captain, Bruno Fernandes, who is also arriving in the area. His pass is intercepted and just like that, the chance is gone.
That has been Rashford's story this season. So short of confidence has the Manchester United star been this season that a chance he could easily take on any other day went begging.
Erik ten Hag, like any other person watching the game, couldn't believe what had just happened.
The signs of Marcus Rashford's dip in form have been there all season. The player ten Hag could confidently rely on last season, even after punishing him for arriving late, seems to have disappeared and replaced by the one who scored only five goals in all competitions during the tumultuous reigns of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
The 25-year-old played some of his best football after the World Cup break, when he seemed unstoppable. He finished the season with 32 goals in all competitions - which led United to a third-place finish and the finals of the domestic cups.
This season, Rashford has only scored once - in the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal. Part of his loss of form can be attributed to playing as a number 9 in the early stages of the campaign as Rasmus Hojlund and Anthony Martial nursed injuries.
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Rashford as a winger vs. as a striker
While appearing on Gary Neville's show, The Overlap, Rashford reiterated that the centre-forward position wasn't his ideal place on the pitch to cause damage.
But since he has reverted back to his favoured left-hand side, his fortunes haven't improved as one would expect - but it was from this same side that he got his only goal this season.
He had a dull outing against Bayern Munich after a few positive minutes, a subdued performance against Burnley, and the worst against Crystal Palace.
So bad was his performance against the Eagles that the Old Trafford crowd didn't boo ten Hag when he chose to introduce Anthony Martial in Rashford's place in the 67th minute while they were a goal down. The last time the former Ajax manager brought the Frenchman on, he was received by boos, as reported by GOAL.
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Rashford has lost his spark at a time when the Red Devils need their goalscorers. His ability to beat defenders in duels, unleash long-range shots or have the mere confidence to take a chance when presented with one hasn't been seen this season.
Rashford's sorry statistics this season
The grim statistic for the forward is that despite United's all-around insipid performances, he has still been able to get chances like the golden one on Tuesday night. Fernandes alone has created five big chances this season, according to stats from the Premier League.
Rashford has been dispossessed 16 times - the fourth-joint most in the league, while he has only mastered six shots on target the entire season, lower than the likes of Matty Cash (defender) and Pape Mate Sarr (midfielder).
From the basis of last season, United's success is interlinked to Rashford firing on all cylinders. His aforementioned 32 goals were 29% of all goals scored by the club. Ten Hag's rehabilitation needs to start with building the confidence of his star man.
And from the impressive cameos of Hojlund so far, getting the two to be in sync could get them back in business as they seek to arrest the form that has seen them record their worst-ever start in the Premier League in over 30 years.