Marcus Rashford’s performance reflects the current state of Manchester United. Despite an outstanding season last year, the forward’s performance this time around has been lackluster, and there’s little hope for improvement in sight. After a recent injury that kept him out of the Fulham match, Rashford is expected to return to Ten Hag’s lineup for the crucial Champions League game against FC Copenhagen tonight. Let’s examine where things have gone awry this season.
Inconsistency has been Rashford’s constant companion, even as he has transitioned into a senior player. He’s had streaks of brilliance with five goals in 13 club appearances, followed by two goals in 20 matches, juxtaposed with his remarkable run of 17 goals in 19 games after the last World Cup. Prior to that, he had two brief hot streaks in the 2020-21 season but managed only five goals in the 2021-22 campaign. This roller-coaster ride means that managers seldom leave him out of the side but must endure long periods of disappointment.
Rashford is the epitome of a confidence-driven player, and his shooting has become increasingly erratic this season as he struggles to regain form. His Premier League shot accuracy has plummeted to 20.59%, a stark contrast to last season’s 46.3%. Even though he’s taking more shots per game this season, his expected goals per match has dropped from 0.58 to 0.39, indicating his erratic shooting from less favorable positions in his desperation to score.
Being part of a team with multiple issues in different areas of the field doesn’t help either. Ten Hag has been unable to settle on a preferred midfield lineup, and even when he does, the team lacks the personnel to both control matches and create significant goal-scoring opportunities. In contrast, Rashford has displayed better form while playing for England in recent months, a testament to the better cohesion in the national team.
The inconsistency in Rashford’s form and his confidence issues are symptomatic of a team that has struggled to meet the high expectations associated with Manchester United throughout his career at Old Trafford.
Regarding Rashford’s recent “unacceptable” night out after a 3-0 loss to local rivals Manchester City, Ten Hag hinted at the effort Rashford is putting in to overcome his slump, stating, “I know how much effort he is putting in. I am sure he is doing everything right to help the team.” United legend Paul Scholes has previously remarked that Rashford may be “trying too hard,” suggesting that relaxation might be the key to rediscovering his form from last season.