Rashford at Man Utd crossroads and considering his future after loss of form

The Etihad Stadium on derby day has provided Marcus Rashford with some of his best moments in a Manchester United shirt. 

His winning goal in the 2016 Premier League clash with Manchester City goes down as one of his favourite football memories and he has been part of three winning sides in his last five trips to the other side of the city. 

But not on Sunday. 

Not only will the result have hurt the 24-year-old, who has spent his entire career at United, he was left frustrated by his marginal role on the day. 

Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out of the fixture on Friday and manager Ralf Rangnick opted instead for a strikerless system, with Bruno Fernandes operating as a false 9, rather than starting the England international through the middle. 

It was another blow for Rashford after a difficult few months in which he has struggled for form.

He has only started two of United’s last 11 Premier League games and has seen his favoured left-wing position in the team occupied by an improving Jadon Sancho. 

If opportunities to start matches remain infrequent, GOAL understands that Rashford would consider his future at Old Trafford. 

Starting on the bench in the derby, with Rangnick initiating proceedings without a recognised striker in the team, certainly did nothing to allay his current concerns. 

Marcus Rashford Manchester United GFX

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When Rashford returned to full fitness after his shoulder surgery, there was hope that he would reach the excellent heights he hit under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but that has not been the case. 

Sources close to the player admit that he accepts his form has not been good enough and he is determined to fight for his place back in the starting XI. There is, however, concern over where he is best deployed. 

Rangnick is of the opinion that Sancho’s best position is on the left and, with the 21-year-old finding his feet in the Premier League in the last few weeks, it has become increasingly difficult for Rashford to push him out. 

Rashford believes he needs time in one position in order to regain his form, having only scored five goals in 24 appearances. That is a tally he accepts he needs to improve. 

The forward has 16 months left on his current contract, with the club having an option to extend the deal by a year, and Rashford will consider his next move carefully. 

United have no intention of letting him leave midway through his deal and there is belief he will get back to his best. 

Rangnick could do with him rediscovering his goalscoring touch sooner rather than later, with his side now out of the Champions League places as a result of the 4-1 demolition at the Etihad. 

They fired blanks against Watford in the league the week before, having 22 shots but only managing a draw, underlining that while United are creating chances, they are struggling to convert them. 

Rangnick’s options are limited by the absence of the suspended Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani’s unavailability due to continual knocks, with the Uruguayan deciding himself when he is fit enough to play. 

Marcus Rashford Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United GFX

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The German interim manager also has Cristiano Ronaldo to deal with.

The Portugal captain flew to Portugal on his private jet after he was ruled out of the Manchester derby with what Rangnick described as a “hip flexor problem”. 

Rangnick has to sort out Rashford’s form and the various issues concerning the other forwards in the remaining few weeks of the season. 

Arsenal are now one point ahead in the race for Europe with three games in hand and it is understood there is increasing concern at Old Trafford over the lack of a permanent manager. 

The club are well under way with their search for Solskjaer’s permanent replacement, with Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag the two favoured candidates, but the lack of clarity over who will be arriving in the summer is causing concern in the dressing room. 

The decision over who replaces Solskjaer long term is likely to have an impact on a number of players’ futures and will be taken into consideration by those with expiring deals who are planning their next moves. 

Pochettino is an admirer of Rashford and Paris Saint-Germain enquired about him last summer but there are no guarantees the former Tottenham boss will be in charge at United next season, with the club currently exploring a number of options. 

No matter who comes in, the England man has to accept that on current form he would struggle to get into the starting XI. 

With 10 league games left, and a Champions League last-16 second leg against Atletico Madrid next week, it is down to Rashford to prove a point. 

He must get back to being a regular starter or show enough quality to earn himself a move elsewhere.

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