OPINION: Why Erik ten Hag persists with Marcus Rashford despite his lack of form

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
More
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
OPINION: Why Erik ten Hag persists with Marcus Rashford despite his lack of form
Rashford has struggled for form desperately this season
Rashford has struggled for form desperately this season
Profimedia
It's not intentional. He doesn't do it on purpose. But when Marcus Rashford (26) is poor, he really is poor. For these pundits, this shouldn't be personal. It shouldn't be any type of hatchet job. They've been there themselves. No man has a career on a constant upward trajectory. There'll always be peaks and valleys. And at the moment, Marcus Rashford is enduring one of those valleys.

This is no column for excuses. and we're not running excuses for Manchester United's No.10. Indeed, when the ball doesn't stick and when it's bouncing off your ankles, the very least you can do is work like no other when out of possession. Unfortunately at St James' Park on Saturday, Rashford failed to do just that - and was rightly hooked by his manager.

But this is no downing of tools by Rashford. No protest against Erik ten Hag. We've seen all this before. As we say, Rashford doesn't do this on purpose. But when his form hits a slump, it really hits a slump.

The touch isn't there, nor are the reactions or speed of thought. If you really study Rashford's game, you can see he's a yard slower than every other player on the pitch - both physically and mentally. But this is Rashford. He gets himself into these spirals and has always battled to find a way out.

Rashford was hauled off after a poor performance against Newcastle
Profimedia

Which is why Ten Hag continues to play him. At the moment, for this column, Rashford is a liability. He's effectively Paul Pogba at the Frenchman's worst. Being caught in possession, spraying loose passes infield, allowing his marker to run off him. His presence in recent games has hurt United. That run of form in the Premier League - before Newcastle - was achieved despite Rashford's contribution, not because of it.

But you can understand Ten Hag's persistence. Rashford isn't going to rediscover his best sitting behind his manager in the dugout. He needs to be on the pitch. Be involved. Keep showing. Keep persevering. Even when nothing is coming off for him - as is happening at the moment.

And to be fair, this is exactly what Ten Hag articulated after that 1-0 setback on Tyneside: “I will talk to him and not the media.

I know this issue's coming up and Marcus is investing a lot. We support him and he will return to his form.

I repeat myself: he works hard and he's investing a lot, he will get back, he will recover and he gets all our support."

Ten Hag has been coming under increasing pressure this season
Profimedia

If Rashford was acting up or if he was being a strop, we'd know about it. Ten Hag is never shy in letting fans know if a player has upset him. And it's clear that's not the case for Rashford.

The wobbler at his substitution is now being scrutinised. And you can understand it. But we'd argue it would've been far more worrisome if Rashford had simply accepted his number being called, shrugged his shoulders and passively jogged off the pitch without a whimper. But there's still spirit and anger there. It's not working for him, but it's not for want of trying.

The question is: how long does Ten Hag stick with his attacker? On Saturday, he had Antony and young Facundo Pellistri on the bench. On current evidence, neither player would be a step down from what Rashford is currently producing.

Again, it shows how much Ten Hag believes in Rashford's talent and how much he's willing to sacrifice to help him snap this slump. If the manager really was all about playing favourites, it'd be Rashford out and his former Ajax man Antony in. Indeed the Brazilian, once introduced, almost earned United an unlikely point if not for Harry Maguire's offside call.

Antony nearly saved the day for United but his goal was ruled out for offside
Profimedia

But Ten Hag, as he suggested post-match, will stick with Rashford. And he won't be reacting to what the ex-players demand. Paul Scholes and Jermaine Jenas had their say on Rashford in the aftermath. "Lazy". "Criminal". They took their shots. But we've all heard it all before. We've seen it all before. This slump is nothing new.

What could be new is if one of these pundits would actually take the public through how they snapped such troughs. Even Scholes had his down moments in a United shirt. Instead of doing the routine thing of reacting and attacking, it would actually be good to hear - and in detail - from one of these greats about how they would overcome such moments in their careers. It won't mean clicks or pats on the back from the producer, but it would be instructive for any young hopeful watching.

And it could even help Rashford. After all, none of this is intentional. It's just another one of those typical deep slumps from United's No.10.

Follow United's clash with Chelsea live with Flashscore

21+ | COMPETENT REGULATOR EEEP | RISK OF ADDICTION & LOSS OF PROPERTY | KETHEA HELPLINE: 210 9237777 | PLAY RESPONSIBLY & SAFELY |

France gouvernement

Les jeux d’argent et de hasard peuvent être dangereux : pertes d’argent, conflits familiaux, addiction…

Retrouvez nos conseils sur joueurs-info-service.fr (09-74-75-13-13, appel non surtaxé)

Do you want to withdraw your consent to display betting ads?
Yes, change settings