Reports are rife this week that Manchester United star Marcus Rashford is unhappy with the amount of game time afforded him under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, but the statistics suggest that the German may be right to be limiting the 24-year-old’s appearances.
The Times notes that in regard to Sunday’s 4-1 defeat to Manchester City, ‘Rashford was particularly aggrieved at his omission from the starting XI for the derby given that Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani were ruled out with hip and groin injuries respectively.
‘Rangnick played Bruno Fernandes as a false nine and brought on Rashford only in the 64th minute.’
The same Times article reveals, however, that Rashford’s minutes per goal or assist ratio this season is just 181, the worst it has been since the 2016/17 season when he was just 19.
This means that he only has, on average, one goal involvement (a goal or an assist) every two full games of football played.
This figure is perhaps even more disappointing given the fact that half of his Premier League appearances this term have come off the bench.
Statistics also show that more goals are scored in the last 15 minutes of football games than any other period and a forward who relies on his pace coming on late in the game against tired legs should have an advantage.
He also did not play for the first two months of the season, meaning that freshness should also give him an edge.
On the other hand, it can be argued that a player needs momentum and that a more regular starting berth would have allowed Rashford to find his rhythm more easily.
In fairness to Rangnick, his management methods cannot really be blamed for Rashford’s poor recent showing. His form has probably dipped steadily since his best season, 2019-2020, when his minutes per goal involvement were only 116.
2020/21 saw Rashford achieve 13 goal involvements in the first half of the season but just nine in the second, which at the time was put down to a persistent shoulder injury and other niggling problems.
It was thought that the shoulder surgery he went through after the Euros, the reason for his missing the first two months of this campaign, would resolve much of the dip in performance and that Rashford would be able to rekindle that 2019/20 form once again.
But that has not happened and if anything, his performances have been worse than they were when he was carrying the injury.