Marcus Rashford has expressed his desire to stay at Manchester United and fight for his place in Erik ten Hag’s squad after falling down the pecking order under Ralf Rangnick.
Rashford’s lack of confidence, waning passion and low stamina saw him sit on the bench more often for United after returning to the team following shoulder surgery.
Having managed just four goals and two assists in the Premier League during the 2021-22 campaign, Rashford had been linked with a move from Old Trafford in the summer.
Tottenham have been touted as his likely destination but United have dismissed claims the 24-year-old could join Spurs and then help Rashford ‘reset and refresh’ under ten Hag.
So, will ten Hag make the most of the underachieving striker in the 2022-23 campaign? If anyone can, he can. The Dutch manager has a reputation for helping underprivileged stars get back to their best form.
Marcus Rashford has expressed his desire to stay at Manchester United and fight for his place
Ten Hag was praised for the work he did in Holland.
The 52-year-old established an exciting style of football and turned several young players into first-team stars during his time at Ajax.
He is also known for his ability to resuscitate the careers of failing footballers who have gone astray. He’s signed several players from the English top flight and beyond – despite struggling in their respective leagues.
The Dutch manager then worked his magic on the outcasts – reigniting their careers and breathing new life into them. It’s something he intends to do with Rashford.
Ten Hag’s magic touch can be seen in Dusan Tadic’s transformation at Ajax. He had faded into the background at Southampton and was desperate to rekindle the spark he used to have.
Rashford’s lack of confidence, waning passion and low stamina have seen him sit on the bench more often than not for the Red Devils during a disappointing 2021-22 campaign for him.
New United manager Erik ten Hag will look to get the most out of the 24-year-old striker
After joining the Dutch top flight to play under ten Hag, Tadic established himself as one of Europe’s top goal contributors.
Ten Hag had the same effect on Daley Blind, Davy Klaassen, Ryan Babel, Maarten Stekelenburg, Quincy Promes and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
However, it is the revival of Sebastien Haller that should excite Rashford. It only took Haller 18 months to prove his critics wrong and excel beyond belief.
He established himself as a threat to any opposing defense while playing under Ten Hag – having found the back of the net 34 times in 43 games for Ajax. As a result, Haller has become a hot target ahead of the summer transfer window.
So, with that in mind…how will Ten Hag approach Rashford’s transformation? Well, it all starts with trust.
The 24-year-old’s self-esteem took a hit last season after he failed to clinch a regular place in the starting XI after returning from his shoulder injury.
Rashford has endured a torrid season at Old Trafford, managing just four goals and two assists in the Premier League during the 2021-22 campaign.
However, it was the England international’s actions off the ball that were most alarming to United fans.
He couldn’t make the right runs, he was sloppy in possession, he had the ball stolen in 1-on-1 situations and his header fell off after every mistake he made.
Ten Hag has a reputation for helping struggling footballers get back to their best shape
Sebastien Haller’s revival under ten Hag at Ajax should excite Rashford for the future
Ten Hag will look to help Rashford recognize his quality by highlighting his key attributes and emphasizing the importance he has in the squad.
Ten Hag will also be looking to give Rashford the license to attack on a large scale. The Dutch manager favors a 4-3-3 formation – a system previously implemented by Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United.
However, he adapted to a 4-2-3-1 formation when needed and used a 4-4-2 diamond system during his time in Utrecht.
That being said, it seems likely that Ten Hag will go ahead with a 4-3-3 formation for the start of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign and reassess later.
The Dutch manager will encourage United to be patient in their build-up game and press with intensity. He will also ask his players to use the left side of the field for combinations and the right side for 1v1 situations.
Ten Hag is known for his attacking football and his success is evidenced by his trophy-laden spell with Ajax – who won the title last season and secured a Champions League spot.
As a result, Ten Hag will look to use his philosophy to shape the current Manchester United squad.
Therefore, Rashford will be given the opportunity to attack freely on the flanks and connect with his teammates in dangerous areas – something the 24-year-old has already talked about.
Speaking about his preferred position in April 2020, Rashford said he favored the left wing. He told news outlet 90min: “When you’re on the left you can create a lot more things on your own, giving the team a little more.”
Louis van Gaal praised Rashford for his ability to follow instructions and do what he wanted
“Whereas when you play up front you are sometimes isolated and need someone in midfield who can find passes for 90 minutes of a game, so you can disappear in games sometimes as a number nine. “
“When I moved up to number nine when I was younger, that was the bit I struggled with because I was always someone who wanted to express myself on the ball.
“When I started playing number nine I realized that you don’t see the ball as often as in other positions, but when you see the ball it’s a goal scoring opportunity.
“That’s what I loved about being a number nine and that’s what I still love about it. But right now I appreciate having the freedom to mix the two – and I think that suits us well right now as Anthony [Martial] likes to drift to the left and go down just as deep.
For Rashford to cement his place in the team, he will need to show ten Hags that he has the ability to score goals and create chances. He will also have to demonstrate his ability to initiate the combined game and his dynamism in attack.
However, Rashford has already shown he is capable of adapting to a manager’s style of play. Louis van Gaal says the England international is good at doing what he asked for during his time at United.
Van Gaal said: “Rashford did the things I asked of him. He scored again, four goals in two matches. You have the chance and you have to perform, you have to do the things we ask. I have always said that it was not a question of age, it was a question of quality. And he shows it.
Rashford shared a 90-second post-holiday gym workout video on his Instagram page
Rashford is also set to marry his childhood sweetheart after proposing while on vacation
Ten Hag will also be looking to transform Rashford physically after expressing concern over Manchester United’s squad fitness levels last season. This should greatly improve Rashford’s concentration and ability on the ball.
Rashford clearly anticipates the physical demands the new manager will place on him. Accordingly, it was seen is working hard on his fitness ahead of United’s first pre-season game against Liverpool on July 12.
He shared a 90-second workout video on Instagram, captioning, “3 workouts and feeling great after an amazing break with amazing people.” Back to work.’
It was also a happy summer off the pitch for Rashford. The MBE recipient proposed to his childhood sweetheart during a playoff jaunt in California.
He knelt down for his longtime girlfriend Lucia Loi last month, less than a week after United’s season against Crystal Palace ended.
The couple, both 24, have been dating since they were 15 when they were pupils at Ashton on Mersey School in Greater Manchester.
Rashford hopes his work ethic, combined with Ten Hag’s magic touch, will help him relaunch his career at Manchester United.
However, only time will tell…