The 19-year-old spent the majority of last season featuring out wide with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who claimed 28 goals, leading the line.
He was then used as Jose Mourinho‘s main striker following the Swede’s knee ligament injury in April and claimed vital goals against Anderlecht and Celta Vigo on Man United’s journey to Europa League glory.
And Rashford, when asked about his preferred role, noted that playing out wide has helped him develop as a striker.
“Of course it’s to play down the middle,” he said. “But playing on the left creates a different picture in your mind. It’s what’s needed to play down the middle. It’s all a process and if I keep buying into it and learning from it, hopefully everything will come through when I’m playing in the number-nine position.”
“It’s about taking responsibility for certain moments. That just shows the manager making me take more responsibility. For the player, it is a good feeling when he gives you those type of duties. All I have do is keep practising and keep practising and keep practising to score more and create more.
“You have only seen me playing for one year and there are a lot of things you don’t know about me and what you have got to learn, what I have got to learn about myself. It’s just a start.”
It was often opined by many that Mourinho’s insistence on playing Rashford out wide would erode the youngster’s capacity to produce the kind of explosiveness at No.9 seen under Louis van Gaal.
But little did they know that, somewhat paradoxically, time away from the No.9 role would help Rashford as a striker more than anything. Playing out wide, after all, gives you a broader vision of what it means to play up front. The 19-year-old’s movement and general awareness of what surrounds him – and how to act on it – has been supplemented by playing always in relation to the side’s main reference point up front.
A striker, after all, can only be so effective playing by himself; learning how to work in conjunction with those around you is the key to developing as an all-round attacking asset, and Rashford has done exactly that under Mourinho.