Although an improvement on last season has been made, Manchester United have still started the new campaign in worse shape than many expected.
Sizeable investments were made over the summer, with big-money moves being completed for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, whilst a cut-price deal for Cristiano Ronaldo’s return was engineered in the final days of the window.
So far this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has failed to nail down the first-choice frontline, with Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba both taking turns on the left-hand side whilst Mason Greenwood has played half of his games on the right-wing and the other half as the side’s centre-forward.
Last season, Marcus Rashford was the clear first-choice pick down United’s left-hand side, with the 23-year-old playing in 37 of United’s 38 league games, with the only fixture he missed being the trip to Wolves on the final day of the campaign.
Rashford suffered a shoulder injury in November 2020 but he managed the problem throughout the campaign and was eventually also able to feature for England in this summer’s European Championship. Rashford’s involvement was limited, however, and he was mostly restricted to late substitute appearances.
Following the tournament, he underwent surgery on that troublesome shoulder and is now believed to be recovering ahead of schedule. Rashford has missed all of United’s games so far this season but could be back in contention against Leicester after this week’s international break, the club has confirmed on Manchester United’s official website.
Rashford was directly involved in 36 goals last season (21 goals, 15 assists) – that type of threat from United’s left flank has been left wanting in his absence. Luke Shaw’s huge strides last season were largely down to Rashford’s ability to create space for the left-back, something United have been missing this year as well.
The pressure on Solskjaer is intensifying by the day and the Norwegian boss will be happy to see the return of his star winger, and Rashford’s return to fitness could also relieve some of the pressure on Solskjaer.
The Wythenshawe-born winger is essential to Solskjaer’s plans at United and should he return in good stead, it’s likely United’s forward line will be nailed down sooner rather than later. Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo are near-givens in the side, and they are likely to be sandwiched by Sancho and Rashford.
Mason Greenwood’s electric start to the season offers United the chance to switch things up, whilst Pogba and Anthony Martial both offer something different – should United need them.
At 23, Rashford remains one of Europe’s most productive young wingers and despite boasting a spectacular record, which includes 100 goals, he is unfairly overlooked by many.