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Marcus Rashford: Is Manchester where the Englishman's future lies?

Chirag Shukla
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
394   //    13 Nov 2018, 01:40 IST

Rashford (right) applauds the fans after United's frustrating defeat by rivals City
Rashford (right) applauds the fans after United's frustrating defeat by rivals City

The Manchester Derby was Pep Guardiola's statement to the world - wherever he goes, he conquers. Manchester United players seemed tired, disorganised, and lacklustre overall: a team who are a mere shadow of their previous selves during Sir Alex Ferguson's Golden era in the red half of Manchester.

While United's 3-1 defeat in talisman Paul Pogba's absence was expected, one player had different expectations from the derby in his home city.

Rashford's frustrations spill late on

Marcus Rashford stormed off the pitch having been substituted in the 73rd minute, being replaced by Alexis Sánchez. Before he was replaced, the 21-year-old - being deployed as their lone striker - had an aggressive and almost belligerent demeanour throughout the game.

So much so that commentator Jim Beglin drew a sigh of relief when Rashford withdrew in the last minute from a vindictive challenge on City midfielder Bernardo Silva. He had already been sent off during their away victory against Burnley earlier this campaign and the winger's frustrations continue to bubble along the surface in an underwhelming United side.

Rashford in a tussle with Burnley's Phil Bardsley - which led to a sending off
Rashford in a tussle with Burnley's Phil Bardsley - which led to a sending off

Since his debut in 2016 under Louis van Gaal, Rashford has been an important player for the Red Devils; particularly in clashes against arch-rivals City. For his efforts, he has received acclaim from teammates, opponents, pundits and managers alike. However as part of an underperforming side under Jose Mourinho, Marcus has seemingly lost the zest he previous provided in earlier seasons.

Mourinho, much like counterparts Antonio Conte, Diego Simeone, Rafa Benitez and other highly successful managers, is defensive-minded and builds his team from the back accordingly. He relies heavily on centre-backs to stand their ground and holding midfielders to push forward, creating chances - a template which has brought him success but is unfortunately not a one-size-fits-all tactic.

Jose Mourinho's purchase of Fred, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof have not brought in the results he expected. If anything, his tactics have forced attack-minded players like Pogba, Anthony Martial and Rashford to track back and cover for full-backs Ashley Young and Luke Shaw, who push excessively forward in an attempt to provide width to the team. As a result, Rashford, who is supposed to be playing in the number ten role, is unable to contribute unable to contribute in terms of forward passing and shots on goal.

What's next?

With increasing frustration, tough competition for starting places across attacking positions and a managerial mismatch, perhaps it's time for Rashford to move on from home comforts and explore a loan opportunity to develop his game and mature into one of England's best players.

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While options like Everton, Bournemouth, Wolves and Leicester all are possible within the top-flight, Rashford must also be willing to follow the path of players like Ademola Lookman, Jadon Sancho, Reiss Nelson and Christian Pulisic - English-speaking youngsters who have embraced the challenge of playing in a foreign league.

With the ability to establish himself as a one-club player, it'll be interesting to see whether Rashford remains patient in Manchester or decides to leave for pastures new.

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Chirag Shukla
CONTRIBUTOR
Football enthusiast!
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