Home ยป Marcus Rashford’s injury opens the door for other Manchester United stars

Marcus Rashford’s injury opens the door for other Manchester United stars

by Scott Eckersley

There’s little doubt that Marcus Rashford‘s post-surgery absence will come as a blow to Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Despite playing with injury for over half of last season, the wide man still managed to contribute 36 goals and assists in 57 games for his club.

And, while allowing Rashford to delay surgery to play a bit-part role for England at Euro 2020 might remain contentious, the situation isn’t necessarily as bleak for United as it might first seem.

The reality is that the Red Devils have lost a player from the one position in which they have an abundance of high-grade options.

For starters, there’s new signing Jadon Sancho, who has played more games from the left in his career to date than he has any other position.

And it’s an area from which the former Dortmund ace has historically thrived, with a whopping 73 goal involvements from just 81 games.

Starting from the left gives Sancho license to unleash his full range of talents. With the superb Luke Shaw overlapping and Edinson Cavani making blindside runs in the box, he’d have a wealth of options to choose from.

And decision-making just happens to be one of the winger’s most notable talents.

The ever-improving Mason Greenwood would also benefit from this setup, keeping his spot on the right side of the attacking three. Two inverted wingers either side of a top target man would give the Red Devils a dazzling combination of pace, trickery and finishing prowess.

It’s a tantalising prospect.

However, Sancho was signed primarily to solve the side’s long-standing absence of a genuine right-sided attacker.

Therefore, if he starts the season from the right, that would leave the French connection of Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba as the two other alternatives.

Although Martial often frustrates, on his day he can be unplayable and ‘his day’ has generally come from picking the ball up on the left and looking to drive infield at speed.

He might have stagnated in some areas but there are few more thrilling sights than an in-form Martial unsettling defenders with his pace, trickery and ice-cool finishing.

Of all the players who could benefit from Rashford’s injury, Martial appears to be the one who needs to grab the chance to re-establish himself. There might not be many more.

And, while much has been said about Pogba’s defensive limitations, when deployed on the left, he’s had the freedom to express himself with less emphasis on tracking back.

It’s no coincidence that this left-sided liberation has resulted in some of his best United displays, with his complete domination of Spurs still fresh in the memory from April.

Although less likely, it could also be argued that Anthony Elanga has done enough to push himself into first team contention. His pacy, direct play and eye for goal could even see him edging the mercurial Martial out of the frame.

Ultimately, Rashford’s absence might not be ideal, but it’s far from a disaster.

In fact, if United quickly find the solution to his absence, he might even find himself needing to quickly regain top form just to fight his way back into the team.

Which is the kind of luxury problem that highlights just how much the Red Devils’ squad has progressed over the last three years.

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