Alan Shearer says he has some sympathy for Marcus Rashford at Manchester United, but believes the youngster must improve in key areas if he is to become a top-class striker.
Rashford has been heavily criticised by some United supporters in recent weeks following some underwhelming performances, with many questioning his ability to lead the line under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The 21-year-old looked off the pace in the 2-0 defeat to West Ham on Sunday before hobbling off with a groin injury.
This season, Rashford has looked far more threatening on the flank rather than at central striker, where he is lacking instinct to be in the right position in the box as well as the strength to hold the ball up.
However, Anthony Martial’s injury and Daniel James’ excellent performances on the left-wing have meant Solskjaer has selected the England international in the centre forward position.
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Shearer spoke about United’s problems in attack for his latest BBC Sport column.
“It is now clear that United took a massive gamble when they sold striker Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and asked players who are either untried or unproven goalscorers to replace him.
“Marcus Rashford has huge talent, but he still has a lot of improving to do. Mason Greenwood has huge potential, but it is a big ask for him to lead United’s attack at the age of 17.
“I have some sympathy for Rashford, who failed to score in open play for the sixth successive match this season, because it would not give me great hope of getting 25 or 30 goals if I was playing in that team – but he has got to help himself too.
“We still don’t know if the 21-year-old is going to end up as as a centre-forward, but if he is going to be a top-class striker with a killer instinct then his movement in the box needs to improve dramatically, and he needs to learn to score the ugly goals as well.”
Solskjaer is now without Rashford for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup game at home to League One Rochdale, and he’s a further doubt for the clash against Arsenal at Old Trafford next Monday.