What Is Marcus Rashford’s Role In Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United Vision? – Forbes

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 27: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United during the Premier … [+] League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on December 27, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)
There was a theory before Manchester United kicked off their Premier League PINC fixture against Newcastle United that the Old Trafford outfit might have absorbed more of Ralf Rangnick’s ideas since they’d last played. After, it had been 16 days since United had taken to the field with the German coach given an unexpected period on the training pitch with his new players.
What United produced at St James’ Park, though, was a long way from what most expected to see from a Rangnick side. Newcastle United were the proactive team. They, not Manchester United, were the ones that pressed high with the visitors caught in possession countless times, including for the opening goal.
Very few in the United team did their job in an underwhelming 1-1 draw, but perhaps the most hapless performance was produced by Marcus Rashford. Deployed as part of a front two alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, the England international was erratic in his decision-making and attacking output throughout.
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 27: Ralf Rangnick the interim / caretaker manager / head … [+] coach of Manchester United talks to Marcus Rashford during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on December 27, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)
This was not an isolated case either. Indeed, Rashford has struggled for form this season, netting just three times in 13 appearances in all competitions. Of course, injuries have been a factor in this inconsistency, but Rashford might soon face questions over his future at Old Trafford with Rangnick now at the helm.
Unfortunately for Rashford, Rangnick’s favoured 4-2-2-2 system isn’t the best of fits for him. The 24-year-old is most effective when he is allowed to cut inside off the left wing to get a shot away or link up with a centrally-positioned teammate, but in Rangnick’s formation he isn’t afforded this freedom.
Instead, the width comes from the full backs with Rangnick preferring a narrow structure of two central midfielders, two attacking midfielders and two forwards. There is an element of fluidity in the way the attacking midfielders and forwards interchange, but Rashford is being asked to run in behind, which isn’t making the best use of his natural ability.
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 27: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United in action with … [+] Miguel Almiron of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on December 27, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
“Today it wasn’t a question of formation, it was a question of energy,” Rangnick explained after the disappointing 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Newcastle United. “It’s a question of what we’re doing when we have the ball. We now have two games in our own stadium. We can do better, I know the players can do it, but we now have to actually do it.”
Rangnick was hired to make some difficult decisions. The Old Trafford dressing room had become too complacent under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and so it’s likely a number of players will be on their way out between now and the summer, with Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial expected to leave in the January transfer window.
It’s extremely unlikely Rashford will be moved on, but the 24-year-old has to earn his place in Rangnick’s vision for the future. At present, he is not offering enough and if Rangnick doesn’t have the players to fit his system, he won’t waste much time in finding some who do. Rashford is a fans’ favourite who has Manchester United running through his blood, but that might not be enough to ensure him a future at the club.

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