Marcus Rashford is fit, shooting and having fun. Yet his impressive recent form also shows why he isn’t Manchester United’s need for a new striker, according to two former England strikers.
Rashford and United with a dominating 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, but Alan Shearer and Michael Owen say they need to buy a ‘number nine’ to complement the 25-year-old’s quality.
Against Forest, Rashford scored United’s first goal after sweeping away a well-worked corner routine initiated by Christian Eriksen and then pushed Anthony Martial into a second shot midway through the first half.
With Martial as the main striker, the England international played a bit lower on the left which allowed him to cause problems for the Forest defense with his movement.
« I think Marcus is liking him more, he sure looks the best, in the position we’ve seen tonight, » Shearer said on Amazon Prime.
“We gave him a bit of freedom – if he wants to go in the middle sometimes, he can.
« But when he has all that space to run from distance, he’s a better player to do that and he’s very, very good at it.
« When it comes to his role as a centre-forward, he lacks that killer instinct, that natural ability to think ‘yeah, I’ll get in there, I’ll get the two or three yards’.
“But there is no doubt about his abilities, he is a fantastic player. »
- In-form Rashford leads dominating Man Utd to victory
Owen, also working at Old Trafford as a TV pundit, agreed with his former strike partner in England.
« I think Rashford is better on the left, he contributes a decent number of goals every year, » said the former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker.
« But he won’t be the Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Robin van Persie, the Wayne Rooney who scores more than 30 goals a season.
“Obviously he is a huge asset to this (Site notre bureau spécialisé) club, he gives them something different, gives them rhythm, gives them candor. »
United’s need for a new ‘out and out’ striker has long been evident and the search has been accelerated by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure by mutual consent ahead of the World Cup.
Frenchman Martial, 27, claimed manager Erik ten Hag’s regular striker job with a decent performance against Forest, but there remains a feeling he’s had enough chances to prove his worth at United for eight seasons without ever being transformed.
PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo was a longtime attacking target – me though the Dutchman, like Rashford, is considered to have come more productive behind a leader – but United appear to have been beaten on his signature by Liverpool.
After beating Forest, Ten Hag admitted it would be « good » to have another striker, but only if United’s « sporting and financial criteria » were met.
“I would definitely look to go to the market to see if they could find a centre-forward,” Shearer added.
« But that’s easier said than done because a lot of clubs are looking for that guy who can come out and score you 25 goals a season. »
Owen, who also had a spell at Old Trafford, added: « Rashford should get 20 a season if you include all the cups. In terms of the Championship, if he gets 15 that would be a very good return.
« But I think Manchester United need that number nine, whether it’s Martial or another player. »
Rashford suffered a dip in form under United caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick last season, scoring just twice in 23 appearances and rarely playing a full 90 minutes.
This season, looking reinvigorated under Ten Hag and playing with a smile again, he has scored 10 times in 21 games for his club.
« I don’t know if it’s as good as I’ve ever played, but I’m really enjoying it, » Rashford told Amazon Prime.
“We are winning a lot more (Site notre bureau spécialisé) matches and our level has been much higher. I’m happy with the way we’ve developed and hope we can keep moving forward.
« It’s a completely different mindset to last season, a different team playing different (Site notre bureau spécialisé).
« For me when you’re not in the team and you arrive there’s a different mindset and you have to think about making an impact and you don’t know when you’ll have another chance or another but .
“But I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now. »
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