It’s not very often I find myself in agreement with anybody affiliated or associated with Arsenal football club, but there is always a first time for everything. Ian Wright isn’t known as a voice of reason in the punditry world, and although he is hardly standing alongside the likes of Robbie Savage I’m fairly sure I can count on one hand the amount of times the former Arsenal and England striker has said something I feel to be true. But the Mirror report on such a happening as Wright proclaims Marcus Rashford is wasted out on the wing.
The signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was always going to be one that hindered the amount of game time the youngster – who burst onto the scene in emphatic style last season – was going to get this year, but the potential to learn all the knowledge the mercurial Swede can impart upon him off the pitch was a risk worth taking. It was everywhere you looked and almost every article written at the time spoke of this devastating blow to the development of one of the United academy’s brightest products. Something must have resonated within Jose Mourinho however, as Rashford has played a remarkable 14 times for the starting XI thus far. But at what cost?
Mourinho was always going to be wary of the incredible record Manchester United hold regarding their young stars. Should he be the manager to break the record then the notoriety it would bring would be less than welcomed to say the absolute least. This may well be the fuel behind his decision to pick Rashford whatever the cost, whilst also incorporating summer signing Ibrahimovic, the consequence of this is Rashford has been shoehorned into a wide position and appears to be suffering a confidence crisis.
“Why is Marcus Rashford playing on the wing? He is a goalscorer.”
It is a quote that really sums up the argument for his move back to the middle, but also why he is so desperately thrust into the side whatever position he may fall in to. It is that ability to find the back of the net that – for this season at least – may well be his biggest downfall. How can Mourinho leave either he or Ibrahimovic on the bench?
Hype is a massive part of why Rashford has been deployed from out wide. He can’t cross a ball, his movement is to always find the middle of the park and surge from there and he has the defensive work rate all great strikers pride themselves upon, but the potential for him to do something spectacular and the hype surrounding him are keeping him isolated in a position he knows very little about.
It has been a season of hardship so far for the boy who could do absolutely no wrong for the last four months of Louis van Gaal’s reign. His confidence is clearly affected by playing in such an alien area of the pitch, and the reluctance of his manager to rest Ibrahimovic and give Rashford the opportunity to strut his stuff centrally can only be further taking its toll for the teenager. Hopefully it is a short term measure, Mourinho will surely see sense soon and start experimenting with playing Rashford as a striker perhaps partnered up with the giant Swede. Whatever happens let’s hope this doesn’t cause permanent damage, Rashford has the potential to make it big time, and where better to do it than at United?