Marcus Rashford continued his sensational form under Erik ten Hag on Tuesday night as he grabbed a late brace to book Manchester United’s spot in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup with a 3-0 win over Charlton. The England international has looked better than ever this season, and it sheds the poorest of lights on former manager Ralf Rangnick.
Since the arrival of Ten Hag in the Old Trafford dugout there has been plenty of change, both on and off the pitch. And as a result, one of the most noticeable differences has been the upturn in Rashford’s form.
The United academy product looked like a shadow of his former self under interim Rangnick last season, scoring four in 25 league appearances and sparking speculation that he needed to move abroad to bounce back. However, it may well have been the arrival of a more confident, strong manager that the 25-year-old required.
Asked last season whether he knew why Rashford was struggling, Rangnick worryingly responded: “Actually I don’t know. I think he’s trying hard.” The response came at a time when United were on a good run of form but without the winger scoring, and not being able to pinpoint any sort of issue in Rashford’s performances raised eyebrows.
He continued: “Yes (confidence is important) especially for forwards – it’s important that they score goals on and off, that there are moments of success.”
Rashford was deployed in his favoured left-wing role under Rangnick, though with limited success which prompted Rangnick to drop the No 10 to the bench. More traditional strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani led the line under the German boss and were regular goalscorers – though it was not just a cutting edge that Rashford lacked during that time, his overall impact on matches was very limited.
Ever since Ten Hag joined United, he was adamant that the forward would be central to his plans and insisted that he should not be offloaded, despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain. Speaking this week, he said: “He is really important. You have seen from the first day I’m in [the club],” said Ten Hag. “I’ve been really pleased [with him]. Definitely, I don’t want to lose him. He’s in our plans and he will stay at Manchester United.”
Rashford’s contract expires in 2024 and reports of a wage cap have led some to question whether he will pen a new deal at the Theatre of Dreams. PSG would be willing to hand the forward an almighty deal, though it would be a significant risk for him to move away from a manager that he is thriving under and from day one was able to pinpoint his downfalls.