With Manchester United chasing a way backmost into nan crippled down 2-0 to Man City, Marcus Rashford recovered himself astatine nan backmost station wrong City's container pinch 64 minutes gone.
Unmarked, he was nan intended target of a chipped transverse from Bruno Fernandes, only to find a backtracking Kyle Walker hit him to nan header - twice.
Groans aimed astatine Rashford reveberated astir Old Trafford. This wasn't a mini number either. Many had seen capable complete what was perceived arsenic a marked deficiency of effort Erik 10 Hag was nan target of calls to return Rashford off.
While nan England international's withdrawal did not travel for different 20 minutes, nan groans that met his duel - if we tin telephone it that - summed up a play of vexation and disappointment for Rashford.
Here is simply a subordinate that deed 30 goals past play and inked a caller five-year statement worthy a basal £300,000-a-week only a matter of months ago. Paris Saint-Germain were sniffing astir and United moved quickly to support him.
Marcus Rashford has looked retired of sorts each play agelong for Manchester United
Erik 10 Hag looks backmost astatine his disappointment prima arsenic he is substituted successful nan 3-0 conclusion to Man City
Now supporters are scratching their heads asking what has gone wrong? Who is nan existent Rashford? The 1 connected show correct now, who looks mentally and physically worn out. Or nan 1 that ripped done opponents pinch swagger and accomplishment astatine nan backmost extremity of past season?
Rashford's shape has been a cardinal talking constituent each play long. Quizzed connected nan guardant astatine nan commencement of October, Ten Hag, successful stark opposition to supporters, trim a relaxed fig erstwhile it came to his out-of-form striker.
'Especially [we person to] springiness him nan trust,' Ten Hag said.
'I play him each game,' Ten Hag continued. 'Most of nan games besides he finishes. I person a beardown belief he will return to scoring a batch of goals.'
Not 1 convention extremity has followed since these remarks.
As a corporate United person been good beneath par this season; pinpointing Rashford unsocial would beryllium grossly unfair.
MAN UNITED'S ATTACK IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE THIS SEASON
Marcus Rashford - 847 minutes - 1 PL extremity - 1 PL assist
Rasmus Hojlund - 493 minutes - 0 PL goals - 0 PL assists
Antony - 407 minutes - 0 PL goals - 0 PL assists
Alejandro Garnacho - 244 minutes - 0 PL goals - 0 PL assists
Anthony Martial - 221 minutes - 0 PL goals - 0 PL assists
Jadon Sancho - 76 minutes - 0 PL goals - 0 PL assists
But it would besides beryllium incorrect to propose he has been starved of service. That is simply not nan case.
After Sunday's 3-0 nonaccomplishment to City - which was overmuch much one-sided than that scoreline suggests - Rashford has had nan 2nd astir shots successful nan Premier League this play pinch 34, 2nd only to City's Erling Haaland, who scored doubly astatine Old Trafford. A communicative of 2 forwards correct now.
Of those 34 shots only 7 person been connected target - 20.6 per cent changeable connected target ratio.
Note excessively that retired of each nan Premier League players pinch astatine slightest 20 shots this season, only Luton Town's Carlton Morris (17.4 per cent) and Liverpool's Luis Diaz (20 per cent) person proven much bad boy than Rashford successful beforehand of goal.
There is disapproval of Rashford for myriad reasons. One, he has shown he is tin of playing importantly better. Two, his mammoth caller woody will rightly bring a greater level of scrutiny - and truthful it has.
Should he stay astatine United done until this woody expires successful 2028, Rashford will gain £78million. Fans want results, and much importantly trophies, for that benignant of money. Right now he looks a ammunition of nan subordinate galore thought they would spot this season.
One of United's problems is that nan squad astir him has proven to beryllium truthful disjointed. Particularly successful attack, United person fires springing up each complete nan place.
Erik 10 Hag is scratching his caput moving pinch an onslaught that has played a mixed 2,288 minutes this Premier League play pinch conscionable 1 extremity and 1 asisst to show for it.
That extremity and assist? They would beryllium courtesy of Rashford.
'When nan squad is not playing well, which it isn't, you are not going to person nan aforesaid numbers aliases nan aforesaid performances that he had past play erstwhile things were going really well,' Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports astatine nan weekend.
'But he has to do more.
'I person ever had nan aforesaid sentiment astir Rashford, he's not world-class, but he's astir apt nan level beneath that. But if United want to get backmost to winning nan league, aliases winning nan European Cup, which is thing they should ever beryllium judged against, Marcus Rashford can't beryllium your champion attacker.'
Rashford is nan only Manchester United striker to people a Premier League extremity this season
His business pinch Rasmus Hojlund (right) is still a activity successful advancement and he is uncovering it difficult to transportation nan load for illustration he did truthful successfully past play erstwhile he scored 30 goals
Carragher was not done there, adding: 'United request personification amended than Rashford to spell and triumph that. It's not a disapproval of him, but of nan players he is playing with.
'If Rashford is United's champion attacker, arsenic he has been nether nan past 2 aliases 3 managers, United won't beryllium winning leagues aliases European Cups.'
As an FA Cup winner, Europa League victor and two-time League Cup winner, Rashford would nary uncertainty cull nan thought that United cannot triumph pinch him arsenic their champion attacker.
But an inability to transportation nan load this season, having done truthful so impressively past season, is telling.
MARCUS RASHFORD STATS AT MAN UNITED
2x EFL Cup
1x FA Cup
1x Europa League
His only Premier League extremity came astatine Arsenal successful September; a superb decorativeness that was a flash of nan talent he showed pinch specified consistency a play ago.
Only now nan flashes are truthful intermittent.
While Carragher gave a alternatively damning verdict connected United's trophy prospects pinch Rashford arsenic their prima man, erstwhile United skipper Roy Keane has, for a change, shown a grade of sympathy.
'I do deliberation it's unfair to comparison it to past twelvemonth because he was truthful brilliant,' Keane said.
'I ever interest for a subordinate erstwhile they motion a mega statement successful nan summertime - I ever interest for players, not conscionable Marcus, that immoderate players easiness disconnected a bit.
'But, if anybody tin nutrient for United, past Marcus is much than capable, he's done it before.'
Premier League shot is simply a lawsuit of what person you done for maine lately? And lately Rashford hasn't backed up nan committedness he made erstwhile penning that mega woody successful July.
'As a United instrumentality each my life, I cognize nan work that comes pinch representing this badge and consciousness nan highs and lows arsenic overmuch arsenic anyone,' he said.
'I tin guarantee you that I will springiness everything to thief nan squad scope nan level we are tin of, and I tin consciousness nan aforesaid determination astir nan dressing room.'
There are 2 schools of thought connected really to lick nan problem pinch an underperforming Rashford, who has looked disinterested successful spells of games this season.
One, instrumentality pinch him and fto him play his measurement into shape arsenic he forms a amended business pinch Rasmus Hojlund. Two, return him retired of nan firing statement successful nan dream of reigniting his conflict earlier putting him backmost in.
His only convention extremity successful 2023-24 came distant to Arsenal successful September. Since past he has faltered
United are truthful reliant connected Rashford to ignite aliases they consequence their play falling further into nan abyss
Right now for Ten Hag it seems to beryllium a lawsuit of instrumentality alternatively than twist. No 1 successful United's onslaught has played much minutes than Rashford - and nan Dutchman is giving each indictation that that won't alteration immoderate clip soon.
'Strikers erstwhile they don't score, they request a infinitesimal and it will come,' Ten Hag said.
'He's truthful knowledgeable and erstwhile he's doing nan correct things and nan squad is, nan momentum will travel and he'll beryllium connected fire.
'We person seen successful nan past weeks, he's getting into bully positions, now he's a small spot struggling but this will walk because everyone knows his qualities.
'Everyone astatine Manchester United backs him, nan full squad is supportive of him and believes successful him.'
Now, pinch United's play astatine consequence of spiralling moreover further retired of control, nan onus is connected Rashford to shingle himself from his slumber. If not, things could good spell from bad to worse.
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