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Where Marcus Rashford fits into Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United plans

With the arrival of Chilean forward Alexis Sánchez, there is more competition than ever to get into the United team and 20-year-old Marcus Rashford has been predicted to suffer from this. Sánchez, who was initially expected to play behind the striker in Mourinho’s United team, has started on the left-wing in all three appearances made for United so far and as a result, players have been moved around to accommodate this arrival.

French winger Anthony Martial has been trialed on the right, occupying the position Rashford normally shines in. This set-up away at Tottenham Hotspur proved to be unsuccessful, as the Reds lost 2-0 away at Wembley, however notably Rashford didn’t feature in this fixture. He was expected to come on at one point but was swapped with Herrera, who came on for substitute Fellaini. For some, this was a sign of what was to come: Rashford being kept out of the team by Mourinho’s new set-up with Sánchez.

Very quickly some pundits and the press suggested Rashford’s United career could be drawing to an end, on the back of only three games. But there are many ways Rashford can fit into a United team alongside Sánchez and into Mourinho’s plans.

The lineup away at Yeovil Town perfectly highlights one of the ways Rashford can fit into Mourinho’s team.  Fans may be more used to seeing Rashford play on the wing, but this time he stepped up as a centre-forward. Admittedly this position would normally be filled by Belgian Romelu Lukaku, but Rashford had success playing here, claiming the first of four goals in the 41st minute. Sánchez played an important role in this goal, delivering Rashford the important ball, which he eventually dribbled into the back of the net.

This goal brilliantly demonstrates how the two players can combine and collaborate successfully and shows that both could fit into a future United team under Mourinho together.

So far Sánchez has only started on the left-wing, after widely being rumoured to have been signed to play behind the striker. If ever Sánchez did play in this position it would leave both the left or right-wing open for Rashford to step up. Last season Rashford predominately featured on the wing, registering 32 league appearances in the 2016/17 season. This season Rashford has also impressed in the league with four goals in 25 league games and two appearances alongside Sánchez so it is hard to understand why some argue Rashford is destined to leave the Reds on the back of one signing.

His statistics also suggest that he has not fallen out of favour since the recent arrival of Sánchez as dramatically as some pundits claim and the argument that Rashford must leave United to get game time is hard to believe. Clearly, opportunities remain for Rashford at United, like every other player he must just step-up and win the manager over when they come.

Rashford is undoubtedly an important player for Mourinho because of his versatility. He has the ability to play on both the right or the left-wing and as a centre-forward. Mourinho would be unlikely to part with a player who can slot into basically any attacking position when required by his club.  A boyhood United fan, Rashford also has his personal passion for the club, which has made him a fan favourite and obviously remains.

Mourinho has been known to question the attitude and drive of many of his players, but he surely cannot doubt Marcus Rashford, for whom playing in a United shirt is quite literally a boyhood dream. This passion will be sure to drive on the 20-year-old England international and make him even more determined to break into the starting XI and prove to Mourinho he deserves his place in the team.

The ability to play as a left-winger, a right-winger and a centre-forward mean that there are quite literally multiple ways that Rashford could fit into Mourinho’s future plans. His statistics from this season and last season show the skill and talent he has, which are obviously needed in any team. Rashford’s drive and versatility mean he possesses many qualities Mourinho likes and values in his team and would be incredibly reluctant to part with.

There are multiple ways Rashford could collaborate with new signing Sánchez and work alongside him in a successful partnership in the Manchester United XI. The signing of Sánchez does not necessarily threaten Rashford and if he continues to work hard and dedicate himself to his United career Mourinho is bound to include Rashford in his future plans.

Written by Ciara Garcha

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