Marcus Rashford of Manchester United was asked which position is his favorite in October, and his response was not unexpected.
“I think I can play either of those (as a striker and on the left wing), though the left side is likely more natural for me. I appreciate doing both, and I’m just trying to help the team, which is what’s most important, and we have many players on the team who can play in different positions, ” said Rashford.
When it comes to [versatility], “you never know what’s going to happen if we have injuries and anything like that,”
Although Rashford’s response was primarily diplomatic—as would be expected from a team player of his caliber—he did state that he preferred to play on the left flank, where he has spent most of his 336 appearances for United.
The academy product has always seemed most at home on the left, and that’s where he’s played his best football since breaking into the first squad in February 2016 with two unforgettable goals against Midtjylland at Old Trafford.
Louis van Gaal, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Jose Mourinho all used Rashford as a striker throughout his time at the club. Still, it wasn’t until this season under Erik ten Hag that he was genuinely effective in that position.
Shortly after making his debut, Van Gaal referred to Rashford as a “genuine striker” who can “create goals and run into channels.” However, while playing for other managers, Rashford did not live up to that description since his finishing could have been more consistent.
The idea that Rashford was not a natural, prolific center-forward and was more suited to the left side of the attack as he established himself as a first-team regular has now been thoroughly refuted.
Not only is the 25-year-old back to his best, but this Rashford is the finest there has ever been. He experienced the worst season of his career, losing his starting position, but he has stubbornly recovered and is experiencing a remarkable renaissance.
Rashford has scored 20 goals in all competitions this season and is on pace to top his previous high of 22 goals from the 2019–20 season. Although the spring flowers have not yet bloomed in February, it appears possible that Rashford will match that total this month.
How was that accomplished? The player used the summer to regroup and recommit to his game. For the first time in years, his preseason was interrupted but injury-free.
This allowed him to begin the season with a fresh perspective and a top-tier manager in control. It allowed him to achieve fantastic results that helped him regain his reputation as one of Europe’s best-attacking talents.
Rashford started 19 games for United this season on the left, which is his natural position, but he has also been asked to play in the middle. Despite his earlier struggles to carry the scoring load, he has been able to thrive in that position.
Rashford was criticized for not being able to score “centre-goals,” forwards, but he is now succeeding. He has displayed exquisite finishing and superb form when playing as a striker.
This season, he has six goals in 10 fewer games when he starts as a striker compared to 11 goals when he starts on the left. Rashford may go to the striker position for the balance of the season against Leeds on Sunday if there is a convincing argument for doing so.
It is not a coincidence that United scored both goals after Wout Weghorst was substituted and Rashford moved to the center of the front line, where the line is more dynamic, fluid, and unpredictable.
Although Rashford has stated that he prefers to play on the left, the squad would benefit more from having him play in the center of the field.