Mark Hughes has laid into Marcus Rashford’s work ethic and defensive attitude while speaking to the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast.
According to The Daily Mail, the former Manchester United striker claimed that “Rashford is an outstanding talent and is one of the best in the league when it comes to taking someone on, but without the ball, he’s probably one of the worst. He’s got to sort that out.”
Hughes for his part, was a highly popular player who was famed for not only spectacular strikes but also a tireless work ethic. Nonetheless, his popularity with fans waned significantly when he took up the vacant Manchester City job in 2008.
The Welshman continued to argue that “I don’t think the players go out with the intention of not trying, that doesn’t happen”. However, he did say, Rashford “has slipped back into the mindset that he had prior to last season – he doesn’t look happy”.
Much has been made of Rashford’s inability to recreate the form of last season. The England striker won the club’s Player of the Year award and scored 30 goals in all competitions.
This is in stark contrast to this season. The Christmas trees are already out in most British homes and the England international has only scored two goals this season, one of which was a penalty against Everton.
Hughes claimed that a lot of United’s problems stem from wide areas, as when the ball moves past them, they do not respond quickly enough.
“The lads need to track back and if they lose possession, they have to regain it as quick as they can”. Not even Rashford’s biggest fan could claim this was an adequate description of his defensive work.
The former Wales international also described the contrasting defensive styles of his former teams. “If you compare them to how Man City react when they lose the ball, it’s chalk and cheese. If Phil Foden loses the ball on the right hand side, he wins it back, same with Jack Grealish”.
This lack of energy was brutally exposed in United’s defeat to Newcastle. With Rashford starting, the team put in a lazy display all over the pitch. The Peoples Person commented that time and time again, Newcastle’s “Tino Livramento had all the time in the world on the right as either the academy graduate failed to track back or was too easily dribbled past”.
This performance led to Rashford being dropped against Chelsea and the side responded with much more effort, leading Patrice Evra to claim that all the players “killed themselves for the badge” that night in a 2-1 win.
The former French full back also asserted that Rashford would find it tough to break his way back into the starting lineup due to the better work ethic of Antony and Garnacho.
Hughes is far from the only pundit to question the England striker’s attitude. Alan Shearer has also claimed that the Englishman does not look happy at United.
What is clear is, Manchester United need a fit and firing Marcus Rashford if they are to continue to climb the table and progress in Europe. Despite the player’s infuriating inconsistencies, as things currently stand, and transfer spending in January set to be severely limited, he is the most proven goal scorer the club has.
It is not hyperbolic to state, Erik ten Hag’s very future at the club may heavily rest on his ability to get a tune out of United’s number ten again.