Marcus Rashford's ups and downs
Should we be expecting more from him, or is this what he can offer?
Data is from FBRef unless stated otherwise.
Marcus Rashford is not a popular man right now.
“He has world-class potential”, Rio Ferdinand claimed, “but he’s not a world-class player. He’s not proved it enough”.
“He has to step up”, Dwight Yorke argued. “Marcus needs to man up, figure it out, and play at the level he knows he's capable of.”
“He’s a local lad, he’s got the mega deal and that is all well and good”, Roy Keane said. “I need a bit more - you run forward but you have to run back. Cover yards. He’s 26 now, he’s not a child anymore. He’s got to set the example”.
All three of those players won major trophies at Manchester United and thus bring that expectation to Rashford. Ex-players can often by the most critical judges of their beloved club. As Rory Smith explained in the past, Liverpool’s abundance of ex-players in the media from a past golden era, “the club felt, was a curse rather than a blessing”1. The likes of Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson, so successful in their own careers at Anfield, couldn’t tolerate a version of Liverpool that failed to reach those heights, and so it is with Keane, Yorke and Ferdinand watching United’s troubles. They judge the club against its very best years, and the current iteration can’t possibly stack up. Rashford is supposed to be one of the stars of a free-flowing United attack. He should be, in their view, pulling this team towards titles, and he’s not.
Rashford missed Man Utd’s 1-0 defeat to Bayern through illness, the kind of thing totally out of his control that nevertheless riles people up. But when he does play, you’d find it hard to argue he’s shown his best form this season. Just two goals and one assist in 13 league matches is a poor return, and it comes off the back of a slow end to the previous campaign. Since the start of March 2023, Rashford has played 22.5 90s worth of Premier League football, with five goals and three assists to show for it. That’s a goal or assist every 250 minutes or so when he’s expected to be one of United’s main threats. It’s fair to question him. But is it correct? Let’s dive into it.