From being at the bottom of the Premier League table to now climbing up to fifth, a lot has transpired in the last two weeks that has enabled Manchester United to successfully turn their fortunes around.
And a lot of that has been down to the tactical and personnel changes made by Erik ten Hag. A defensive reshuffle and a changing of the players up front have now led to three wins on the trot and two successive clean sheets.
Raphael Varane and Tyrell Malacia, who were drafted into the starting line-up, have certainly made it difficult for those sitting on the bench to make a comeback into the first XI.
Rashy the new striker
While Rashford has never truly impressed when played up front on his own, he has contributed to United’s changing fortunes this season with his work-rate and intensity.
There remains scope for improvement but the England international remains more potent when playing down the left flank as seen from his winning goal against arch-rivals Liverpool.
Southampton successfully manage to stifle him by starving him of any service but his movement off the ball led to Bruno Fernandes finding himself free in the box to score the winner.
Marcus Rashford registers his 40th Premier League assist. Cristiano Ronaldo is the only active Man Utd player with more (49).
Timed to perfection. ✨ pic.twitter.com/Js7mWepJfx
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 1, 2022
It was his smart assist that led to Sancho scoring the lone goal against Leicester after some fine interplay between the front players.
“I’m confident they can do it and now they have to get that belief as well and you see when they bring that on the pitch, you can see which impact they can have. I was really happy that just they scored the two goals because I hope that will give them the push that they can do the hard work.
“They are really contributing in defence and pressing but also they contribute in the creativity, in creating chances, and finishing chances — and that is what they are really good at. It’s about when they believe that, they will do it,” the manager said prior to the Saints clash.
New challenge for Rashy
“It remains difficult to describe Rashford as a striker without using caveats, asterisks and a number of footnotes,” Carl Anka wrote in The Athletic regarding the Mancunian.
Stats back up this theory as The Athletic goes on to mention. “Of the 208 Premier League appearances he made since his 2016 debut, 77 of them have come as United’s centre-forward.”
This shows how four permanent managers see Rashford more as a winger than a striker. But Ten Hag is confident that Rashford can reinvent himself for the team’s sake considering the injury-prone Anthony Martial and aging Cristiano Ronaldo.
Antony’s arrival means he will be the right winger for the long-term and that means Sancho is likely to operate down the left, where Rashford thrives usually.
The 24-year-old seems like he is up for the challenge.
“Rashford is a valuable second option at United, both up front and out wide, so long as he continues to build. It is up to him to take it.”
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