Marcus Rashford’s blooming confidence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was there for all to see during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Newcastle United.
The youngster, who has started at No.9 for all four of Solskjaer’s games as caretaker manager, bullied Newcastle’s defence all evening with an aggressive, rapid performance.
His fizzing free-kick was parried by Martin Dubravka, allowing for Romelu Lukaku to swipe home from close range, before he added Man United’s second with a calm slotted finish towards the end.
Rashford’s numbers from the game tell the story of a player loving his football under Solskjaer.
Marcus Rashford's game by numbers vs. Newcastle:
100% dribbles completed
most shots (7)
most shots on target (4)
most shots from inside the box (4)
1 chance created
Another impressive display. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/PTosFCpSgy
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 2, 2019
“He’s still learning,” Solskjaer said about Rashford last week. “The most important thing I can see is to just settle him down in front of goal. I’ve seen him rush a few finishes. He thinks, ‘I’ve got to get a shot off early’ when sometimes you just pass it past the keeper. I always say the goal never moves.”
Herein lies the key difference between Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho’s man-management. The latter did not even try to improve his players. Solskjaer pinpointed a weakness in Rashford’s game and has helped him improve.
The way Rashford took the ball down, steadied himself, and passed it beyond Dubravka into the corner was clear-as-daylight evidence of Solskjaer’s coaching of the 21-year-old bearing fruit. More generally, this is a manager who believes in his players, who sees what they can – rather than what they cannot – do on a football pitch.
And United players have responded by producing four straight wins. Who would have thought a positive attitude would help generate positive outcomes?