Rashford must escape Manchester United to reignite his career

Sport

Marcus Rashford was left at home for Manchester United’s FA Cup fifth round win over Newport County on Sunday. Had he stayed at home earlier in the week, the England international surely would have played a part in the victory at Rodney Parade. Instead, Rashford paid for his reported decision to visit a nightclub in Belfast before missing training the following morning.

Illness was the official reason given by United for Rashford’s absence at Newport County, but Erik ten Hag confirmed after the match that the 26-year-old’s recent conduct was an “internal matter.” The Dutch coach is entitled to expect better behaviour from one of his most senior players with Rashford’s future at Old Trafford not the subject of some discussion.

Manchester United announced on Monday that Rashford will return to training this week and could play against Wolves on Thursday. “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions,” read a statement released by the Old Trafford club. “This has been dealt with as an internal disciplinary matter, which is now closed.”

At this point, though, it might be best for all parties if Rashford left United. The 26-year-old appears weighed down by the expectation placed on his shoulders as a boyhood Manchester United fan. Rashford needs to get his career back on track and there’s a growing sense he won’t be able to do that at Old Trafford.

It’s somewhat understandable that Rashford is currently struggling to produce his best form. While he netted 17 goals in the Premier League last season, this season has seen Manchester United suffer a dramatic drop-off with very few at Old Trafford currently shining. Rashford certainly isn’t the only player to have been dragged down.

Rasmus Hojlund has netted just twice in 16 Premier League appearances this season while Antony has failed to register a single goal or assist in the division this term. Casemiro has failed to meet the standards he set for himself last season with Raphael Varane another experienced figure currently toiling. The latter two could be sold in the summer.

Other players have found success after leaving Manchester United. Anthony Elanga, for example, has enjoyed the best season of his career after joining Nottingham Forest last summer. Jadon Sancho only returned to Borussia Dortmund on loan this month, but he already looks like his old self in the Bundesliga, registering an excellent assist on his debut.

Rashford could also benefit from a fresh start away from Old Trafford. Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the forward in the past and could be in the market for a left-sided attacker this summer if, as expected, Kylian Mbappe leaves the Parc des Princes. Rashford would fit the bill for the French giants.

Barcelona are also believed to be long-term admirers of Rashford. Joao Felix has operated on the left side of the Catalans’ attacking line this season, but the Portuguese international is only on loan at Barca until the end of the season. There would be a place in the Barcelona lineup for Rashford to occupy, although the Catalan club might not have the finances to sign the 26-year-old this summer.

The appointment of a new manager at Old Trafford this summer might give Rashford another opportunity to turn around his Manchester United career, but does anyone at the club have the stamina to repeat the same cycle all over again? Rashford, after all, was in a similar position towards the end of Ralf Rangnick’s time in charge. It might be best for all parties if Rashford were to seek a fresh challenge elsewhere this time.

Author: Mark Hayes