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Marcus Rashford blossoming into a number nine could be bad news for England

A catch 22 for club and country?

Man United fans have got their Man United back.

Granted it’s only been Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle.

But you can only beat what’s in front of you and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resurgent side have swept aside their four opponents so far.


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Ole Ole Ole

Getty - Contributor
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Ole Ole Ole

There are many subplots to United’s rejuvenation – Paul Pogba liberated, Ander Herrera back to his snappy best – but Marcus Rashford’s stellar performances as a number nine are the most noteworthy.

Under Jose Mourinho, Rashford and Anthony Martial were alternated, strictly on the left wing with little freedom to roam free.

Both cut dejected figures, both stagnated as potential failed to develop into genuine pedigree.

Man on fire

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Man on fire

That already looks to have changed after Mourinho’s acrimonious exit.

Solskjaer has installed Rashford – at Romelu Lukaku’s expense – as his main number nine and the statistics already vindicate the move.

In 850 minutes under Mourinho, Rashford managed just three goals from 18 shots.

Less than a month ago

Reuters
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Less than a month ago

In 326 minutes under Solskjaer he has already matched both of those totals… in less than half the time.

Compare this Rashford with one we saw for England in Croatia in September.

Coolness personified

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Coolness personified

Against Newcastle the 21-year-old bristled with composure, clinically tucking away United’s second in true Solskjaer style.

Just months ago he snatched at an almost identical opportunity in that bizarre behind-closed-doors Nations League tie, ultimately costing the Three Lions two points.

Spurning an identical chance

AP:Associated Press
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Spurning an identical chance

Mourinho turned his back on Rashford after a gilt-edged miss against Crystal Palace.

Solskjaer has given him a license and the confidence to unleash hell.

Gary Neville couldn’t conceal his excitement to the Sky Sports cameras, saying: “He is on the right trajectory to become something really special for Manchester United.

“He’s played nearly 150 games at the age of 21 and his potential is enormous.

“It’s actually now stepping up beyond the potential to where he will be a top-class player.

“People will talk about Lukaku and how is he getting back in the team – don’t worry about that, worry about the kid that’s playing that’s going to devastate teams.”

He’s right.

Lukaku may well discover his best but Rashford’s ceiling is much, much higher.

But I’m thinking with my selfish, England cap on here.

Say Solskjaer does hone Rashford into an unstoppable number nine… Gareth Southgate already has one of those at his disposal in Harry Kane.

World class

Reuters
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World class

Are we staring down the barrel of another Gerrard v Lampard style debate? Two world class players, essentially vying for one place?

Instead of unleashing a well drilled attacking trio of Kane, Rashford and Raheem Sterling, at least one of the triumvirate will be playing out of position.

It’s a catch 22; a marvellous situation for United but a challenging one for Gareth Southgate.

Let the club versus country debate commence once again.


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