Marcus Rashford’s highlight heel against Norwich might go viral on social media for all the wrong reasons.
Ralf Rangnick named an unchanged Manchester United side on Saturday evening from the team that beat Crystal Palace in his first game in charge last weekend and that meant Rashford was tasked with leading the Reds’ press alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mason Greenwood had impressed in midweek, although Rashford was perhaps fortunate to keep his place in the starting line-up.
Rashford was arguably one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ‘favourites’ yet that standing at the club was immediately made redundant when Solskjaer was sacked and replaced with interim boss Rangnick.
Managerial change brings uncertainty for some players while it brings opportunity for others. That environment is conducive to raising performance levels, with each player fighting for their future.
Rashford has been keen to impress — his exaggerated sprinting against Arsenal straight from kick-off was no coincidence — but you wouldn’t need long in one of the German’s video footage analysis sessions to pick out Rashord’s best moments from Arsenal and Norwich.
The forward has been poor in recent weeks and nothing seems to be going right for him on the pitch.
Yet you can’t fault Rashford for his effort and determination. He was everywhere on the pitch against Arsenal and Crystal Palace and energetic again at Carrow Road this weekend; however, he crucially lacked quality in the final third and his decision making was beyond disappointing.
It was hoped Rashford would return from his layoff on the sidelines as a new player. There have been glimpses of his best form since his return (his finishes against Leciester and Tottenham were superb) but he’s failed to rediscover his swagger, which has been absent for a while in truth.
And while it’s worth noting that he is playing in a side that’s low on confidence, that doesn’t excuse his lamentable performance against Norwich.
It was his worst since his nightmare in Gdansk. Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes also had games to forget, but fortunately for those two players, their places in Rangnick’s starting line-up don’t appear vulnerable.
For Rashford, the concern is that Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood are patiently waiting and the 24-year-old must now know the inevitable is coming.
Rangnick substituted off Jadon Sancho for Greenwood against Norwich and Rashford might have been surprised to see that it wasn’t his number raised on the fourth official’s board.
That substitution felt like Rangnick was sending a message to Rashford.
The 63-year-old was giving him the chance to continue on the pitch when he probably didn’t deserve it, but Rashford failed to repay that faith and it now seems certain that Greenwood or Cavani will start next to Ronaldo on Tuesday night against Brentford.
The latter has developed a formidable partnership with Ronaldo in a short space of time and United look dynamic in attack with both starting. They looked far from dynamic with Rashford and Ronaldo at Norwich. They looked pedestrian and disjointed.
Rashford has started in Rangnick’s first two Premier League games but you’d get long odds on him starting the next two.
There is a phenomenal player in there but United aren’t currently seeing it and hopefully Rangnick can solve the puzzle.