I’m Not Expecting Rashford In Next Few Weeks, Says Solskjaer

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe top scorer Marcus Rashford will be fit to return from a back injury for a number of weeks.

Rashford was forced off less than 15 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute in an FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves on Wednesday and was absent for United’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

However, Solskjaer revealed the England international is unlikely to return before United’s mid-season break at the start of February.

“He’s got a couple of knocks, jolts against Wolves,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“He aggravated his back (and) had trouble before. (We need to) give him time to recover and rest before we put him back on the pitch.

“I wouldn’t expect him to be back in the next few weeks. We have a mid-season break and I’m not sure are going to see him before then, no.”

United face either Watford or Tranmere in the FA Cup fourth round, travel to Manchester City for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final — trailing 3-1 from the first leg — and host Wolves in the Premier League in the next two weeks.

Solskjaer’s men then have a 16-day period to rest and recuperate thanks to the Premier League’s first-ever winter break before travelling to Chelsea on February 17.

AFP

Solskjaer Hails Rashford After United Thrash Norwich

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (R) scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match against Norwich City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 11, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Marcus Rashford marked his 200th appearance for Manchester United with two goals in a 4-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, leaving his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer predicting he can get even better.

Anthony Martial and impressive teenager Mason Greenwood were also on the mark as Solskjaer’s team maintained their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League through the league table.

But those prospects may depend on the continued fitness of Rashford, who was substituted after less than an hour and was declared doubtful for Wednesday’s FA third-round replay with Wolves due to injury problems.

Solskjaer admitted he will have to handle Rashford’s fitness carefully and little wonder given that the 22-year-old has now scored 19 times in his past 23 games for United and England.

“What an achievement, to get to 200 games at his age,” said the Norwegian boss. “I don’t know how many goals he has scored but he has 19 (for United) this season and he’s been absolutely top class to work with.

“He’s a great kid, great attitude, he wants to learn, wants to improve but knows he has to keep his feet on the ground but is always available even though today he is carrying quite a few knocks.

“He’s played many, many games, I might have to look at how we manage him but of course he can get so much better. He’s got everything to be a top-class player.”

– Rampant Rashford –

Rashford now has 64 goals in his United career, with the 63rd of those coming in the 27th minute after largely unrelenting home pressure, although the goal owed everything to a fantastic assist from Juan Mata.

The Spanish playmaker received a long pass from Victor Lindelof and, after Todd Cantwell backed off a little too far, had the space to float in a perfect cross which Rashford volleyed in at the far post.

David de Gea was required to make a superb save late in the first half to keep their lead intact, diving well to claw away a curling shot from Cantwell.

But that was a rare lapse from a United side that dominated for the bulk of the game and should have been enjoying a more comfortable cushion by the interval.

That finally came with two goals in quick succession early in the second half, with Rashford heavily involved in the first of those, playing a ball into the area for Brandon Williams to chase.

The young full-back won a penalty after a rash challenge from goalkeeper Tim Krul.

United had missed four of their previous eight penalties this season — two in their win at Norwich before Christmas — but Rashford made no mistake on this occasion with a firm strike into the bottom right-hand corner.

The Reds did not have long to wait for a third as Williams played a quick, short corner to Mata whose cross was headed in brilliantly by Martial, who rose powerfully amid a crowded six-yard area to head firmly past Krul.

It was the second assist of an impressive afternoon for Mata, with Norwich’s outplayed midfield and immobile defence having no answer to his skill-set.

“When you get Juan facing forward he can pick those passes and put crosses in, he was excellent,” said Solskjaer.

Williams himself should have continued the rout moments later, missing an open net from three yards, before substitute Greenwood finally produced that fourth after 75 minutes, driving a left-foot shot past Krul from the edge of the area.

AFP

Martial, Rashford Score For United In Burnley Win

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (C) puts the ball in the back of the net but is ruled to have fouled Burnley’s English defender James Tarkowski (L) ruling out the goal during the English Premier League football match at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on December 28, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford scored late in each half as Manchester United moved into fifth place in the Premier League with an impressive 2-0 win at Burnley.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have responded positively to disappointing 2-0 defeat to then bottom-of-the-table Watford less than a week ago to head into the new year with fresh belief they can secure a return to the Champions League next season.

If United are to achieve that goal, Martial and Rashford will be key and they again provided the goals for the Red Devils in a game of few clear-cut chances.

There were also positives for Solskjaer at the back as his side ended a club-record 14-match run without a Premier League clean sheet.

Burnley have not beaten United since 2009 and never looked likely to spring a surprise.

Rashford was first to threaten when he hit the outside of the post midway through the first half.

But Burnley were architects of their own downfall just before half-time when Charlie Taylor gifted possession to Andreas Perreira and he fed Martial to score his third goal in two games.

Phil Bardsley forced David De Gea into a fine save with Burnley’s only shot on target.

United finally got the second goal their performance deserved to add a shine to the scoreline deep into stoppage time.

Daniel James led a counter-attack down the right and Rashford slotted home his 16th goal of the season at the second attempt after slipping as he rounded Nick Pope.

Rashford Strikes Twice As United End Mourinho’s Perfect Start At Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga deflects the ball onto the bar from a shot by Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (not pictured) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 4, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Marcus Rashford spoiled Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford on Wednesday, scoring twice as Manchester United beat Tottenham 2-1 to end their former manager’s perfect start to his tenure at his new club.

The England forward put United in front early in the first half and converted a second-half penalty to restore their lead after Dele Alli’s exquisite equaliser as United leapfrogged Spurs in the Premier League table.

Spurs went into the match two points ahead of United after their mini-revival under their new boss, who replaced the sacked Mauricio Pochettino at the London club last month.

Struggling United had made their worst start to a season in 31 years but started brightly against the visitors, playing with energy and adventure and cutting through the Spurs midfield with ease.

The home side deservedly took the lead when Rashford beat Paulo Gazzaniga at his near post in the sixth minute — the forward’s 11th goal in his past 13 games for United and England.

Man-of-the-match Rashford, attacking from the left, surprised the goalkeeper with the power of his shot but Gazzaniga may feel he should have done better.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could easily have stretched their lead but Gazzaniga made amends by touching a thunderous Rashford shot onto the crossbar.

 Rashford threat 

The Spurs goalkeeper made another smart stop minutes later, keeping out a curling effort from Rashford and Jesse Lingard also went close.

It was a far cry from recent disjointed performances against Sheffield United and Aston Villa. Both of those matches ended in draws after United had taken the lead.

But despite being a clear second best, Tottenham edged their way back into the game and were on level terms six minutes before half-time thanks to an audacious piece of skill from the in-form Alli.

Serge Aurier’s shot was saved and the rebound landed to Alli, whose sweet first touch took the ball away from Ashley Young and Fred. He let it bounce before shooting past David de Gea into the far corner.

The England man looked a pale shadow of himself in the early weeks of the season but has bounced back in style, scoring four times in his past three matches.

United would have been disappointed to have been trailing at the break after their impressive first-half showing but they were back in front in the 49th minute when Rashford sent Gazzaniga the wrong way from the spot after being brought down by Moussa Sissoko.

The match then fell into a familiar pattern, with United surging forward in search of another goal, with Rashford a constant threat down the left and Daniel James also looking dangerous.

Mourinho threw on Christian Eriksen in search of an equaliser as the game remained in the balance but despite some late pressure against a nervy United, they left Old Trafford empty-handed.

Mourinho, sacked by United last December, won his first three matches in charge of Spurs, with his team scoring 10 goals in the process but he has problems to sort out at the back as he targets a Champions League spot.

United are also eyeing the top four despite a big gap to close.

AFP

Man United Beat Brighton 3-1, Climb To Seventh Position

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (R) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on November 10, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United’s upturn in form continued as Andreas Pereira and Marcus Rashford struck in a 3-1 victory over Brighton at Old Trafford that was even more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side also benefitted from a first-half own goal from Davy Propper to recover from an unproductive spell that had seen them score just four times in their last four home league games.

United moved to within a point of the top five after scoring twice in two first-half minutes and, although both came after significant deflections off Brighton defenders, it was no more than Solskjaer’s side deserved.

READ ALSO: Cagliari Rout Fiorentina 5-2, Climb To Third In Serie A

Fielding the youngest starting line-up of any team in the Premier League this season – 23 years, 350 days – United made an energetic opening with Rashford coming closest to a goal, with a committed run and powerful shot which Mat Ryan saved well.

But on 17 minutes a United counter-attack saw Fred find Anthony Martial. His link with Pereira, whose shot took an unkind deflection off Dale Stephens, wrong-footing Ryan on its way in.

United supporters were still celebrating that opener when they were handed double cause for celebration from a deep free-kick that Fred floated into the Brighton area.

Harry Maguire rose powerfully, causing panic for Ryan and his defence, and with Brighton slow to react, Scott McTominay forced the ball over the line, via a final touch by Davy Propper.

Not even the inevitably drawn-out delay for a VAR check, over whether Maguire had handled or Ryan fouled in the build-up to the goal, could dilute the joy of home supporters.

It was a scintillating spell of football from a side that, before Thursday’s Europa League win over Partizan Belgrade, had not scored two first-half goals at Old Trafford for nearly 10 months since Brighton’s last visit in mid-January.

After some low moments so far this season, including a dispiriting 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth last weekend, United were on their way to a fifth victory in their last six league and cup games.

This is United’s best run since Solskjaer first took over from Jose Mourinho at the turn of the year.

Brighton were looking for their first-ever victory at Old Trafford but rarely threatened in the first half beyond a couple of set-piece deliveries.

And if Fred had been more fortunate with a 61st-minute strike that Ryan fumbled onto his bar to catch at the second attempt, the afternoon could have been far more comfortable.

As it was, there was a worry for United on 64 minutes when Brighton halved arrears from a Pascal Gross corner, met by Lewis Dunk who headed in from six yards despite the close attention of Maguire.

United’s response was swift and clinical, however, with the Reds restoring their two-goal cushion just two minutes later.

It came from a blistering counter-attack and a beautifully-weighted through ball from Fred which Martial took in his stride, brushing off Shane Duffy and rounding Ryan before pulling back for Rashford to convert.

Rashford would follow that, moments later, with an astonishing miss as he failed to find the back of an open net from six yards after fine work and accurate cross from Dan James.

Teenage full-back Brandon Williams, making his first-ever league start, James and Rashford were all denied by Ryan as United threatened to make the victory even more emphatic, but settled for three goals and a very welcome three points.

AFP

Manchester United’s Confidence On The Rise, Says Rashford

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford gestures at the final whistle during the English Leaguse Cup fourth round football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on October 30, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Three successive away wins have done wonders for Manchester United’s confidence following a difficult patch, according to striker Marcus Rashford.

Rashford celebrated his 22nd birthday a day early in some style on Wednesday scoring both United’s goals as they beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to progress to the League Cup quarter-finals.

His second goal, a swerving 30-yard free-kick, was labelled by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as “Cristiano (Ronaldo)-like” though Rashford preferred to see it as an important boost to team morale following away wins at Partizan Belgrade and their first in the Premier League in eight months last Sunday at Norwich.

Solskjaer had been under pressure after United made their worst start to a league season in 33 years, but Rashford hopes the team have now turned the corner since becoming the first side to take points off leaders Liverpool a fortnight ago with a 1-1 draw.

“If you get a couple of wins back-to-back early on in the season it can change the direction the season is going,” Rashford told Sky Sports.

“Because mentally, for a team like Man United, when you’re winning back-to-back games, the team’s confidence levels go up.

“So, if we can keep doing this and keep it up in the league, we take it game by game and go back up the table.”

United’s next challenge is a fourth successive away trip, this time in the Premier League to Bournemouth, who are level on points with them, on Saturday.

Rashford Misses Penalty As Crystal Palace Shock United

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford reacts after missing his penalty during the English Premier League football match between his team and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 24, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP.

 

 

Manchester United suffered fresh penalty woe as Marcus Rashford missed from the spot in their shock 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace, while Chelsea manager Frank Lampard secured his first win at Norwich on Saturday.

On Monday, United were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Wolves after Paul Pogba’s penalty was saved by Rui Patricio when the France star insisted on taking over spot-kick duties from Rashford.

But Rashford fared no better when he hit a post from the spot in the second half against Palace at Old Trafford, putting United on course for their first defeat of the Premier League season when Patrick van Aanholt grabbed the visitors’ winner in stoppage-time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had sent out United’s first unchanged line-up in the Premier League since December 2017, but that group produced a tame first-half performance as Palace took the lead in the 32nd minute.

Palace keeper Vicente Guaita thumped the ball upfield and Jeffrey Schlupp flicked on to Jordan Ayew, who was played onside by the slow-to-react Harry Maguire as he side-footed past David de Gea for Palace’s first goal of the season.

When Scott McTominay was fouled, Rashford, who had scored a penalty against Chelsea in the first game of the campaign, took the ball as Pogba looked on, but the England striker’s spot-kick cannoned back off the woodwork.

Former Swansea midfielder Daniel James looked to have spared Rashford’s blushes when he bagged his second goal for United with a fine finish in the 89th minute.

But a terrible blunder by United keeper De Gea proved decisive in the third minute of stoppage-time as the Spaniard allowed van Aanholt’s shot to squeeze under him at the near post.

It was Palace’s first league win over United since May 1991 and their first league victory at Old Trafford since December 1989.

At Carrow Road, Tammy Abraham got the Lampard era up and running as the young Chelsea striker’s double helped seal a 3-2 win over the Canaries.

Lampard had gone three games without a win in all competitions since he took over as Chelsea manager, but the Blues legend finally got off the mark thanks to his faith in Abraham.

– Pulsating encounter –

Abraham had failed to score in his three previous appearances this term, but the 21-year-old striker bagged his first goal for the club to put Chelsea ahead.

A pulsating encounter saw Todd Cantwell equalise for Norwich before Mason Mount restored Chelsea’s advantage.

Teemu Pukki’s fifth goal in three games this season brought Norwich back on level terms before half-time, only for Abraham to give Chelsea the points with his predatory second-half finish.

Southampton won 2-0 at south-coast rivals Brighton, who paid the price for the 30th-minute dismissal of forward Florin Andone for nasty high challenge on Yan Valery.

Southampton took the lead when Mali Under-20 international Moussa Djenepo struck with his first touch in the 55th minute — just 78 seconds after coming on as a substitute.

Nathan Redmond ensured Southampton would enjoy their first win of the season when he scored in the closing moments.

Leicester substitute Harvey Barnes sealed his side’s first victory of the season as they beat Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane.

Jamie Vardy produced a typically predatory effort from James Maddison’s pass to give Leicester the lead in the 38th minute.

Oliver McBurnie brought United level in the 62nd minute, the club-record signing heading past Kasper Schmeichel after coming off the bench.

But Barnes won it for Leicester with a superb strike in the 70th minute.

Sebastien Haller’s first goals for West Ham ensured his side cruised to a 3-1 victory at Watford.

Mark Noble was making his first start this term for West Ham and the midfielder was on the scoresheet with a third-minute penalty.

Andre Gray drew Watford level with their first goal of the season in the 17th minute.

However, Haller, a close-season signing from Eintracht Frankfurt, broke the deadlock from Felipe Anderson’s cross in the 64th minute.

And French forward Haller’s brilliant overhead kick nine minutes later sealed West Ham’s first success of the campaign and left Watford still waiting to get a point on the board.

AFP

Solskjaer Urges Rashford To Follow Ronaldo’s Example

Manchester United’s English forward Marcus Rashford plays a shot during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on March 6, 2019. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged Marcus Rashford to be more ruthless in front of goal by following former United favourite Cristiano Ronaldo’s example.

Rashford calmly converted the stoppage-time penalty that saw United complete an incredible comeback to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League on away goals by beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 away on Wednesday.

However, that was the England international’s first goal in six games.

The 21-year-old began Solskjaer’s reign as United’s main center-forward but has moved back to a wide role, with Romelu Lukaku coming in to score six times in three matches, including twice in the French capital.

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Ronaldo made his name in Manchester before going on to become Real Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer during nine seasons in Spain, leaving to join Italian giants Juventus last summer.

But Solskjaer wants Rashford to see out his entire career at United, as well as learning from the Portuguese’s progression from wing wizard to prolific goalscorer.

“There are legends we’ve had at this club that have stayed so long and been one-club players, and we hope Rashy’s gonna be one of them,” said Solskjaer.

“I keep battering him with it that he should also score as many goals as Rom after training sessions have finished. You should always get them simple tap-ins as Rom scored in the last few games.

“Rashy’s goals are sometimes worldies and he does have a sensational strike of the ball.

“But you see the improvement and maturity in Cristiano’s goals from when he was young to now, he scores more from inside the box and that’s what Rashy has to improve as well.”

United’s remarkable recovery in Paris, becoming the first side in European Cup history to overturn losing the first leg 2-0 at home, appears to have all but guaranteed Solskjaer the manager’s job on a permanent basis.

He revealed to a Norwegian podcast earlier this week that his contract with Molde, the club to which he was supposed to return in June following the end of his temporary stint with United, had been terminated.

“That’s just the media,” he said on Friday. “I am not here to get excited, I am here to do my job.

“With that contract issue, you cannot have two contracts when you’re a manager, so that contract was terminated.

“I am contracted to Manchester United until the end of June.”

Victory against PSG was all the more remarkable as United were missing 10 first-team regulars but should be in significantly better shape for Sunday’s trip to Arsenal.

Paul Pogba returns from suspension and will be joined by compatriot Anthony Martial after the Frenchman’s three-week absence with a groin injury.

Solskjaer is also hopeful the midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera, plus defender Eric Bailly, will also be fit for another huge game which will go a long way to deciding if United finish in the Premier League’s top four.

“Eric is fine. Anthony will be available and hopefully, we’ll have Nemanja and/or Ander ready as well,” said Solskjaer.

“We’re looking better for it. They just need to have another couple of days training with the team. They’ve done well with their recovery work.”

AFP

Man Utd Open Talks With Marcus Rashford Over New Deal

Manchester United’s English striker, Marcus Rashford / AFP

 

Manchester United have opened talks with Marcus Rashford over a new and improved contract following the forward’s impressive run of form under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, reports said on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old scored his 10th goal of the season in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Leicester, becoming the second-youngest player to reach 100 Premier League appearances for United after Ryan Giggs.

Rashford’s contract expires next year and while United have the option to extend it until 2021, negotiations are understood to have started over a fresh agreement.

Rashford has started all eight Premier League games since Solskjaer took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho in December, scoring six goals.

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The club are also working on a new contract for goalkeeper David de Gea, having last week tied forward Anthony Martial down until at least 2024.

United interim boss Solskjaer said on Friday that Martial and Rashford could create a devastating on-field relationship for years to come.

“They’ll play many, many years together, hopefully, so if they get an understanding of each other, because both are very good at coming in off the left,” he said.

“If one of them plays centrally, then the other one has to have opposite movements.”

Seven wins in eight league games under Solskjaer have lifted United to just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League places.

Solskjaer Salutes Rashford As League ‘Best’ In Kane Absence

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (3R floor) scores their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 19, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Marcus Rashford has a claim to being the best striker currently playing in the Premier League as Harry Kane recovers from injury, Manchester United caretaker-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested.

Rashford marked his 150th appearance for United with an outstanding goal as they defeated Brighton 2-1 in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday.

England forward Rashford’s 41st goal for the club came six days after he scored the winner against Kane’s Tottenham at Wembley, and he now has seven goals in his past 10 appearances in all competitions.

England captain Kane damaged ankle ligaments against United, and is not expected to return to training until early March.

Solskjaer implied Kane, when fit, is the best centre-forward in England’s top division, but suggested Rashford, 21, is increasingly showing his potential to be a top-class striker too.

“You can argue for many strikers but I’m glad he’s in my team,” said Solskjaer, himself a former United forward.

“Harry Kane’s injured, so maybe that gives him (Rashford) a better chance to be the best at the moment.

“No one beats him on work-rate, no one beats him on attitude, and at the moment, he’s very confident in front of goal.”

‘Best football of his career’ 

The Norwegian added: “He finishes, he tries to shoot, he doesn’t think twice about it. At the moment, I think he’s playing the best football of his career.”

United’s win was their seventh in a row in all competitions, as Solskjaer became the first manager in the club’s history to win his first six league matches in charge.

Their run has pushed them back into contention for a top-four finish, which would secure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

However, despite going 2-0 up before half-time, with Rashford’s goal following a Paul Pogba penalty, United endured a nervous finish after Pascal Gross scored for Brighton with 19 minutes left.

Solskjaer, appointed after United sacked Jose Mourinho, accepted the team were still a work in progress.

“We need to improve a few things,” he said. “Defensively, we need to find our shape better. We need to defend better with the ball.

“We were under the cosh, we were winning 2-1, so keep it away from the opposition, let them run.

“At times today, though, we played some fantastic football. We could have scored two or three in the second half.”

Brighton, in 13th place, have won just one of their past eight league matches, but showed enough in defeat to suggest they have the quality required to stay clear of trouble.

Chris Hughton’s south coast side are seven points clear of the relegation zone, and face Fulham, Watford and Burnley in their next three league fixtures, following next weekend’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against West Brom.

‘Disappointing goals’ 

Hughton was annoyed by the way Brighton conceded two goals at Old Trafford, full-back Gaetan Bong failing to stop Pogba’s run before fouling him for the penalty, while Gross did not get close enough to prevent Rashford from making it 2-0.

The Brighton manager could also reflect on the fact that top-scorer Glenn Murray lashed a clear first-half chance wide, when they trailed by only one goal.

“We’re playing against a Manchester United team in very good form at the moment,” said Hughton. “They’re probably pressing higher, and they’ve got a really good momentum at the moment.

“That’s why you know you’ve got to defend really well against them, and certainly not give away what I would regard as disappointing goals.”

The Seagulls boss added: “But as with any team that want to press high with the energy that they do, there are areas to exploit.”

AFP

Rashford Still Searching For United Role

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (2L) gestures before being sent off for head butting Burnley’s English-born Scottish defender Phil Bardsley during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on September 2, 2018. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Marcus Rashford has proved with England that he has all the qualities required to be a consistent attacking threat — but his task now is to replicate that form for Manchester United.

Rashford impressed as England beat Croatia 2-1 last Sunday to secure a place in next June’s Nations League Finals, yet there is no guarantee he will start when Manchester United host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.

That is because manager Jose Mourinho is still wrestling with the question of how best to fit Rashford into his team, an issue that does not appear to be a problem at the international level.

England manager Gareth Southgate, having switched from the 3-5-2 system he used at the World Cup to a more attacking 4-3-3 set-up, has started to use Rashford on the left of a front three, with Raheem Sterling on the right and Harry Kane in the centre.

It is an approach that is working well for Southgate, with Rashford outstanding as England won 3-2 in Spain last month before using his pace to good effect against Croatia to create danger on the counter-attack.

However, to secure the left-sided attacking role at United, Rashford will need to force his way past Anthony Martial, whose current form is as good as anything he has shown during his three years at Old Trafford.

The France forward has been consistently better that his England rival since the start of last season, with 15 goals to Rashford’s nine in the Premier League.

Mourinho has also been impressed with the way Martial has begun to understand better his defensive responsibilities, meaning that Rashford will probably need to find a role elsewhere.

For now, the centre-forward position does not appear to be the answer for Rashford, even though that was where he played initially when making his debut under Louis van Gaal in February 2016.

Rashford has not been a consistent goalscorer in 2018 — while four goals in 16 England appearances is a decent return, a tally of six in 34 games for United suggests there is room for improvement.

His finishing too often lacks a ruthless touch, so perhaps in the short term his best hope of a regular starting place at United is to prove himself on the right side of the attacking three, a role in which he played when they drew 2-2 at Chelsea in October.

The forward has proved that he has the discipline to stick to his position when playing in a wide role, and is an undoubted threat when cutting in off either flank.

Playing in that role could, in turn, give him the regular starts that help to build his confidence.

For while Mourinho has talked repeatedly about the number of games he gives Rashford, the striker has not been able to settle into a role and a large chunk of the forward’s appearances have come as a substitute.

There is no doubt, though, that Mourinho rates Rashford, which is why reports this week talking about a potential move to Real Madrid appear unlikely to lead anywhere.

“I think he’s a privileged player, a privileged kid, if you want to say it, a man, that has so many opportunities to develop himself, and is going to keep having them,” said Mourinho.

“I think he has the conditions for his career to explode, in the positive way of the word, that not many players have during their careers.”

AFP

Rashford’s Seals Last-Gasp Victory For United At Bournemouth

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford (2R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during their game against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on November 3, 2018. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Marcus Rashford’s dramatic late winner capped Manchester United’s fightback as they maintained their recent revival with a 2-1 win against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Rashford’s close-range finish came after Anthony Martial’s effort had cancelled out Callum Wilson’s early opener for Bournemouth at Dean Court.

It was United’s third victory in their last four Premier League games, extending an upturn in form that was started by the home victory over Newcastle United when Jose Mourinho’s side recovered from a two-goal deficit.

The result will strengthen Mourinho’s belief his side are on the up, although the United manager could easily have been contemplating a defeat had the home side made more of a succession of early chances.

Mourinho had expressed his confidence before this game that United’s position in the Premier League table would look very different heading into the second half of the season.

“I think by the end of December, which is the end of the first half of the Premier League, I think we are not going to be in the position we are now. We are going to be in a better position,” he said.

If the Portuguese’s prediction is to come true, United must shake off the inconsistency that has so far undermined their efforts this season.

This was a start, particularly as Bournemouth had begun the season so impressively.

Mourinho will know, however, there must be much more to come if they are to revive their challenge for a top-four place.

Romelu Lukaku was a surprising absentee, with Mourinho revealing before the game the forward had not travelled to the south coast after picking up an injury the day before.

“In training yesterday, after the press conference, he felt something that needs to be studied in the next couple of days,” Mourinho said.

“So Lukaku has not come and we decided to start with Alexis (Sanchez).”

Lukaku had started on the bench against Everton six days previously so his starting place was far from guaranteed – he has not scored in nine games for his club.

But Mourinho decided not to risk the Belgian with Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Juventus looming.

Sustained pressure

Sanchez got the nod ahead of Rashford, a starter against Everton, but the Chile international had little chance to shine during the opening stages when Bournemouth could have sealed the points.

The visitors struggled to cope with Bournemouth’s pacy front players and Eddie Howe’s side exploited the lack of organisation in the United backline, forcing the lead in the 11th minute after a period of sustained pressure.

Wilson was denied by David De Gea and Junior Stanislas’s shot deflected wide before United finally cracked after failing to deal with the resulting corner.

Luke Shaw headed clear but Mourinho’s side were guilty of failing to put pressure on the ball, allowing Stanislas to drill in a low cross that was turned home by an unmarked Wilson.

United finally clicked in the 35th minute when Sanchez showed his worth.

The former Arsenal forward won the ball in midfield, with the help of his arm, according to the Bournemouth players, and played it wide to Ashley Young before advancing into the box to collect the return and set up Martial for the 35th-minute equaliser.

Mourinho’s side were fortunate to be level at half-time but after the restart, they improved the longer the game went on and should have claimed a decisive second goal after Young struck the bar with a free-kick.

The ball fell to Rashford whose close-range shot was blocked by Nathan Ake.

However, Rashford made amends in the final seconds when he turned in Paul Pogba’s cross from close-range.

AFP