Monday, January 24

Marcus Rashford looks out of shape and joy at Manchester United | United manchester

Two Marcus Rashford moments against Aston Villa on Monday night to sum up his lost season thus far.

Number 1: Manchester United lead the FA Cup tie, somehow, 1-0 towards the end of the first half. A high ball is hit to the forward. Old Trafford just took a collective breath as they witnessed a moment of riot from Rashford’s clumsy, errant and elegantly designed talent. that, of a similar pass. But this time, he cleverly drops the ball and finds Edinson Cavani. What a surprise everywhere; The point here was the shock he felt that the 24-year-old executed smoothly and as expected a difficult but regulatory skill for the high-performing, highly-paid footballer.

Number 2: Towards the end of the game, United continues to lead, in a way. Mason Greenwood sees a shot deflected by Emiliano Martinez and as the keeper rushes to pick up the rebound, Rashford closely refuses to put pressure on Villa’s keeper. Instead, like a man deep in contemplation, taking a walk of deep soul searching, United’s No. 10 watches the action from a few feet away and keeps walking. The point, again, is the dislocation, the jarring view. Is someone out of the game, maybe? Is that why Rashford doesn’t seem to notice? No, a replay confirms that a player whose attitude casts him as a future United captain is so invested in himself that he can’t get up to chase a ball off Stretford End.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This is the season that Rashford would be pain-free, with long-standing shoulder problems, as he refused to have surgery to play until after England reached the Euro 2020 final. The procedure happened later. in July, ruling out Rashford until United’s 4-2 loss at Leicester City on October 16. He scored, as he did in the following game (3-2 at home to Atalanta) and two games later (3-0 at Tottenham).

But, since then, zero. This is all very strange because when news of his surgery came out, Rashford explained how his performance had decreased due to pain. “I didn’t want to let anyone down, but ultimately, looking at some of my performances towards the end of last season, I felt like I was. When I step on the field I always give 100% ”, said the forward. “Physically my 100% just wasn’t possible. It has been difficult, but I am coming back physically and mentally stronger ”.

Marcus Rashford has gone 11 games without scoring, his worst streak since 2016-17.
Marcus Rashford has gone 11 games without scoring, his worst streak since 2016-17. Photograph: Peter Powell / EPA

However, so far it has not. So far it seems less strong. What, then, is Rashford eating? He has gone 11 games without scoring, his worst streak since 2016-17, a first full season with the team. His minutes for each of the final three of this term, 282, is his career low, as are the 0.7 chances created per game.

A more unquantifiable but evident and inescapable truth for most witnesses is how a player with an enthusiasm for his beloved hometown club and an admirable social conscience that brings an inner satisfaction had the appearance, compared to Villa, of a man who he just didn’t enjoy being Marcus. Rashford, Manchester United footballer.

This is strange to observe. It may be a temporary thing, of course: a midseason routine that Rashford will fight (his spirit is not in doubt) to reverse. The Villa’s display can soon be placed in understandable perspective; it can be seen as a nocturnal event; a self-perpetuating phenomenon where when touches go wrong, passes are lost and Rashford’s usual purr in his pockets turns into a rattle in traffic, he got caught in a spiraling circle and each time less internal frustration.

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Maybe. But, for their sake and for a seriously failing United, the brilliance must be rediscovered. Quickly. Ralf Rangnick’s team may have just one loss under them in seven outings, but the opposition that failed to beat them – Crystal Palace, Young Boys, Norwich, Newcastle, Burnley and Villa – has been mediocre at best. The only loss was to a Wolves who came to play at Old Trafford and destroyed United.

Rashford isn’t the only player whose performance graph is a downward slanted bar, but his is the one at the steepest angle. It’s not too late, of course: a campaign spearheaded by the annus horribilis file could still be stopped and changed. There is precisely half of the Premier League season left for United: 19 games. There are at least two more Champions League games, against Atlético de Madrid in the round of 16. There could be five more FA Cup draws. Rashford is good enough to transform the campaign into an annus mirabilis. Can do it?

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