Why Rashford is proving so effective
A big reason for Manchester United’s recent upturn in form comes from Marcus Rashford’s role in the team and his devastating runs in behind the opposition defence.
That’s the view of this week’s Debate panel, comprised of former Reds David May and Ben Thornley, plus journalists James Robson and Carl Anka.
Rashford is United’s top goalscorer this season, with three in six games so far, and he’s also registered two assists.
Our no.10 was pivotal during Sunday’s 3-1 win over Arsenal, setting up Antony’s opener and breaking away to score a second-half double and take the game away from the Gunners.
The Debate lads are still unsure as to whether Marcus’s best position is wide on the left or as a striker, but it was pointed out that his pace in the more central berth is causing headaches for other teams.
Will Erik rotate the squad for Real Sociedad?
The Debate | Praise for two players after the Arsenal win, plus Real Sociedad and Crystal Palace previews…
“I think what’s more impressive now he’s playing up front is that there are more players that can get those passes in behind the defences,” Anka said. “That’s something Marcus is doing a lot more in these games.
“He’s running in behind more and not getting discouraged if it doesn’t come off the first or second time.
“The first goal against Arsenal, for most of the game he’s not having a great amount of joy out of Gabriel. He’s very strong and he’s fronting him up, he’s got good recovery pace so he can catch up.
“Just before the goal he [Rashford] switches to [William] Saliba, the other centre-back, which is classic centre-forward play. And he got the goal, which is great.
“He’s a player who is confident again and I think that confidence is evident not just from him but the other attacking players too.”
May, a centre-back during his day, explained why Rashford’s positioning is providing defenders with such issues.
“There’s nothing worse than playing against a quick centre-forward and you’re high up,” he added.
“If you’re against Bruno and Christian Eriksen, who can pass a ball first-time behind you, you’re dead. If you’re playing that high, you just don’t have the time to get back. Once he gets in front of you, you’re not going to get back because he is lightning.
“I said at the beginning of the season, a new manager can bring in fresh ideas for players. The likes of [Anthony] Martial, who was excellent in pre-season, Marcus now, Jadon Sancho, to a certain extent, [is] getting the goals.
“There’s a real positive vibe with the forwards. If you play the right balls they will score goals and for a defender that’s an absolute nightmare.”
90 in 20: United v Arsenal
Watch the extended highlights of our clash with Arsenal earlier this season...
While Rashford may have found the net three times across the games with Liverpool and Arsenal, not every run gets its reward.
But Thornley says it’s the perseverance that’s most impressive, especially considering a disappointing year or two by Marcus’s high standards.
“Nine out of 10 times it won’t come off but Marcus’s unselfish running, it’s no surprise to me,” offered Thornley, who has had one of the best seats in the house in recent weeks as MUTV's co-commentator.
“Like with Liverpool, like with Arsenal, he will time the right run, get the right pass and be through on goal. Once he’s like that, with a three or four-yard start, no one will catch him.
“The most impressive thing is that he’s been in that situation time and time again, with the couple of seasons he’s had, the mentality he has and what must have been going through his mind on both occasions, but he’s won the game for us.
“He’s been excellent, he really has.”