Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick expects Marcus Rashford to be dissatisfied with his recent performances and that he will not be able to hide behind his job on the right wing as an excuse.
Since returning from shoulder surgery, Rashford has scored five goals in four months, and his form has been an issue for the better part of the last 14 months.
The 24-year-old was an unexpected starter in the Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid in midweek, but he was replaced in the 75th minute after a terrible performance.
The forward scored two goals in two games off the bench, one of which was a winner, against Brentford and West Ham, but he hasn’t scored in his previous five appearances.
Rashford was dubbed “very nervous” by United legend Paul Scholes, while fellow Champions League winner Rio Ferdinand remarked, “I would assume someone would be getting into him.” In recent weeks, Rashford has been shown film analysis and talked to on a regular basis, according to Rangnick.
“He’s not hurt,” Rangnick stated emphatically. “He hasn’t had any problems with his shoulder in a long time. In the last few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about Marcus, and I’ve had a lot of conversations with him. There’s nothing else I can say about it. When it counts and they’re on the field, it’s with him, as it is with all the other players – and he began against Atletico Madrid.
“They just have to perform, and I’m sure he’s not happy with his performance right now, but it’s not going to help if we speak about it every week and speculate on what it could be.
“Is he dissatisfied? I don’t see why he shouldn’t be happy, do you? In the last few weeks and months, we’ve had good results. The group as a whole is in good shape.
“Right now, he’s attempting to achieve his best potential shape and performance, and we’re doing our best to lend a hand in any way we can.
“We show him video footage, we speak with him on a daily basis, and he is in excellent shape during training. That’s why I chose to portray him. Now he must make the transition from his training performance to league competition, which is the next step he must take.
“We had a similar issue with Jadon [Sancho] six or seven weeks ago, as far as I recall. He is the best illustration of what might happen; once again, it is up to the player to perform and get the most out of his own performance, and Marcus is no exception.”
Sancho is a certain to earn United’s player of the month title for February after thriving on the left flank, a position where Rashford shines.
Rashford has been forced to play on the right, a position he despises, but Rangnick says Rashford cannot use that as an excuse.
“Marcus has also played on the right wing, and I recall him doing well against Arsenal in the last game Michael Carrick was in charge of. So it’s not a matter of who plays left or right for me.
“On the left, Jadon has performed admirably. He formed a solid relationship with Luke Shaw in several of those games, and he played a lot of games on the left side in Dortmund.
“This is not a huge concern for me. They can play on either the left or right side of the field. It’s about how proactive they play, and as I said, we were far too static and predictable in the first half against Atletico, making things far too easy for them to defend, and that’s what we changed in the second half and did in recent games, such as Burnley in the first half, Leeds in the second half, and Brighton in the second half at home.
“All we have to do is be energetic, proactive, and always on the move, making it difficult for the other team to defend us, and it doesn’t matter if Marcus plays on the left or right side.”