How Marcus Rashford has become Manchester United's talisman under Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Marcus Rashford is well and truly Manchester United's talisman this season, as he leads the charge at Old Trafford under the coaching of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. The 22-year-old has scored 9 goals while bagging 4 assists in the league alone. What is the reason behind such a transformation for United's current top scorer?
When he burst onto the scene in 2015-16, the then 19-year-old scored a stunning brace versus Arsenal at Old Trafford where Manchester United sealed a 3-2 victory over the Gunners. However, opportunities were hard to come by for the young forward in his first season.
With time, Rashford started to make his presence felt, as he appeared in nearly 90+ games from 2016 to 2018. He scored only 22 times in the league over the 3 years. He has been severely criticised and has had a hard time in England, along with the pressure of playing for one of the biggest clubs in world football. But right now, his upsurge under a new manager in Solskjær has been sensational. The number 10 is on course to beat all his scoring records.
The basic reason why Rashford has found life comfortable under Solskjær is because of the Norwegian's playing style. The former Cardiff City manager prefers to set up his teams defensively and play counter-attacking football, quite similar to what Nuno Espírito Santo does at Wolves. Rashford thrives when he is asked to attack the huge spaces left behind the opposition teams' fullbacks due to his pace and control with the ball.
Lighting speed along with composed finishing inside the box is a nightmare for any defender, and these are the two qualities he has developed incredibly well over the last seasons. The lack of big names in this Manchester United squad right now has presented him with an opportunity to lead the line without the pressure of playing with big stars. The likes of Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Jesse Lingard have proved to be exactly what he as well as Solskjær needs in the team - pace, effective passing, final third brilliance, and consistency.
Rashford did not have the best of starts in the Premier League this season, as the absence of Martial forced Solskjær to deploy him as the centre-forward, a position he is not comfortable in. The England international lacks the movement and positioning required for a striker, which is why he turned out to be unconvincing in that role. However, Anthony Martial's return, along with Mason Greenwood's emergence has helped Rashford get back to his original left-winger position, and he is thriving. For a 22-year-old to score against Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool, Spurs, and City is a commendable feat and he is rightly being billed as the 'Big Game Player'. The Englishman has directly been involved in 15 goals in his last 16 appearances, with the latest coming at the Etihad Stadium, where he won a penalty following a tackle from Bernado Silva, and eventually scored it with ease.
As things stand, he is the fourth-highest scorer in the league with 9 goals to his name and is just 2 goals behind his best-ever season total at United, which came last year.