Marcus Rashford means business under Erik ten Hag and could be given a free licence in wide attack 


Marcus Rashford has expressed his desire to stay at Manchester United and fight for his place in Erik ten Hag’s team after falling down the pecking order under Ralf Rangnick. 

Rashford’s lack of confidence, dwindling passion and poor stamina saw him occupy the bench more often than not for United after he returned to the squad following his shoulder surgery. 

Having managed just four goals and two assists in the Premier League across the 2021-2022 campaign, Rashford had been linked with a departure from Old Trafford this summer. 

Tottenham was touted as his likely destination but United have dismissed claims the 24-year-old could join Spurs and will subsequently help Rashford ‘reset and refresh’ under ten Hag. 

So, will ten Hag get the best out of the under-performing forward during the 2022-2023 campaign? If anyone can, he can. The Dutch manager has a track record of helping out-of-favour stars rediscover their best form. 

Marcus Rashford has expressed his desire to stay at Manchester United and fight for his place

Ten Hag has been lauded for the work he has done in Holland.

The 52-year-old established an exciting style of football and developed several youth players into first-team stars during his time at Ajax.

He is also known for his ability to resurrect the careers of failing footballers who have lost their way. He has signed multiple players from the English top-flight and beyond – despite their struggles in their respective leagues.

The Dutch manager has then worked his magic on the outcasts – reviving their careers and giving them a new lease of life. This is something he intends to do with Rashford.  

Ten Hag’s magic touch can be evidenced by Dusan Tadic’s transformation at Ajax. He had faded into the background at Southampton and desperately needed to reignite the spark he used to have. 

Rashford's lack of confidence, dwindling passion and poor stamina saw him occupy the bench more often than not for the Red Devils during a disappointing 2021-2022 campaign for him

Rashford’s lack of confidence, dwindling passion and poor stamina saw him occupy the bench more often than not for the Red Devils during a disappointing 2021-2022 campaign for him

New United manager Erik ten Hag will be looking to get the best out the 24-year-old forward

New United manager Erik ten Hag will be looking to get the best out the 24-year-old forward 

Having moved to the Dutch top-flight to play under ten Hag, Tadic established himself as one of the leading goal contributors in Europe. 

Ten Hag had the same effect on Daley Blind, Davy Klaassen, Ryan Babel, Maarten Stekelenburg, Quincy Promes and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. 

However, it’s Sebastien Haller’s revival that should excite Rashford. It took just 18 months for Haller to prove his critics wrong and excel beyond belief. 

He has established himself as a threat to any opposing defence 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 highly coveted 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 confidence.

The 24-year-old’s self-esteem took a hit last season after failing to land a regular place in the starting XI after returning from his shoulder injury. 

Rashford endured a torrid season at Old Trafford, managing just four goals and two assists in the Premier League across the 2021-2022 campaign.  

However, it was the England international’s actions off the ball that were the most alarming for United fans. 

He was failing to make the right runs, he was sloppy in possession, he was robbed of the ball in 1v1 situations and his head dropped after every mistake he made. 

Ten Hag has a track record of helping struggling footballers rediscover their best form

Ten Hag has a track record of helping struggling footballers rediscover their best form

Sebastien Haller's revival under ten Hag at Ajax should excite Rashford about the future

Sebastien Haller’s revival under ten Hag at Ajax should excite Rashford about the future

Ten Hag will look to help Rashford recognise his quality by highlighting his key attributes and emphasising the importance he has on the team. 

Ten Hag will also look to give Rashford the licence to attack out wide. The Dutch manager favours a 4-3-3 formation – a system previously implemented by Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United. 

However, he has adapted to a 4-2-3-1 formation when needed and used a 4-4-2 diamond system during his time at Utrecht. 

That being said, it seems likely that Ten Hag will go ahead with a 4-3-3 formation for the start of the 2022-2023 Premier League campaign and reassess later down the line.

The Dutch manager will encourage United to be patient in their build-up play and press with intensity. He will also ask his players to use the left-hand side of the pitch for combinations and the right-hand side for 1v1 situations.

Ten Hag is known for his attacking, front-foot football and its 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 mould the current Manchester United team. 

Therefore, Rashford will be given the opportunity to attack freely on the flanks and connect with his fellow team-mates in dangerous areas – something the 24-year-old has spoken about before. 

Speaking about his preferred position in April 2020, Rashford said he favours the left wing. He told news outlet 90min: ‘When you are on the left, you can create a lot more things on your own, giving that little bit more to the team.

Louis van Gaal praised Rashford for his ability to take instructions and do what he wanted

 Louis van Gaal praised Rashford for his ability to take instructions and do what he wanted

‘Whereas when you are playing up front, sometimes you are 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 transitioned to a number nine when I was younger, that’s the bit that I struggled with as I was always someone who wanted to express myself on the ball. 

‘When I started playing number nine, I realised that you don’t see the ball as often as you do in other positions, but when you do see the ball, it’s an opportunity to score goals.

‘That’s what I loved about being a number nine and that’s what I still love about it. But right now I’m enjoying having the freedom to mix between the two – and I think it suits us well at the moment as Anthony [​Martial] likes to drift to the left and drop deep as well.’ 

For Rashford to cement his place in the team, he will need to show ten Hag that he has the ability to score goals and create opportunities. He will also need to demonstrate his ability to initiate combination play and dynamism in attack. 

However, Rashford has previously shown he is capable of moulding himself to a manager’s style of play. Louis van Gaal said the England international was good at doing what he asked during his tenure at United. 

Van Gaal said: ‘Rashford did the things I asked of him. He scored again, four goals in two matches. You get the chance and you have to perform, you have to do the things what we are asking. I have always said it is not a matter of age, it is a matter of quality. And he shows it.’ 

Rashford shared a 90-second post-holiday gym workout video on his Instagram page

Rashford shared a 90-second post-holiday gym workout video on his Instagram page

Rashford is also now set to marry his childhood sweetheart after proposing while on holiday

Rashford is also now set to marry his childhood sweetheart after proposing while on holiday

Ten Hag will also look to transform Rashford physically after expressing his concern over the fitness levels of the Manchester United squad last season. This should significantly enhance Rashford’s concentration and ability on the ball. 

Rashford is clearly anticipating the physical demands the new manager will place on him. As a result, he has been seen working hard on his fitness ahead of United’s first pre-season game against Liverpool on 12 July. 

He shared a 90-second workout video on Instagram, with the caption: ‘3 sessions in and feeling good after an amazing break with amazing people. Back to work.’

It has also been a happy summer off the pitch for Rashford. The MBE recipient proposed to his childhood sweetheart while on a postseason getaway in California.

He got down on one knee for long-time girlfriend Lucia Loi last month, less than a week after United ended their season in defeat to Crystal Palace.

The pair, both aged 24, have been dating since the age of 15 when they were pupils at Ashton on Mersey school in Greater Manchester.

Rashford will be hoping his work ethic, combined with Ten Hag’s magic touch, will help revive his career at Manchester United. 

However, only time will tell…  



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