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The Rashford puzzle is one worth solving for Manchester United

It is fair to say that more was expected from Marcus Rashford this season. The forward has just two goals to his name and has struggled to score with anything like the frequency United fans would want.

The youngster exploded onto the scene in 15/16 and was a breathe of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant United side. However, there is a school of thought slowly emerging to suggest he has not quite hit the heights expected.

This inconvenient plateau that some are saying he has already hit, is most unwelcome for Manchester United as they look to claw back some ground on the top four. Whether or not his progress has leveled off isn’t certain. What is, however, is that Marcus Rashford is a precious talent, one that can be worked on and turned around from his current rut. His form is a problem, but it’s one worth solving in the long run for United.

Against Southampton on Saturday we got a look at the good and bad of Rashford’s game. Firstly, he was at fault for the free kick which gave Southampton a two goal advantage. It was his sloppy play which gave the ball away, and his over zealous tackle which resulted in a foul in a prime location for The Saints.

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The youngster rallied though, and was instrumental in both United goals as his side rescued a point. There were no goals or moments of astonishing quality, but Rashford at least showed his determination and ability to get his side back in it.

Perhaps he is guilty of over thinking and trying too hard to recapture his best form. It’s a common problem for some players. When you’re not at your best, nothing comes naturally and overcompensating becomes the norm.

There is an awful lot of negativity and pressure surrounding United currently and perhaps this has tainted Rashford’s game.

It must also be remembered that Rashford is still only 21. While age should never be something used as a casual excuse for defective displays, it shouldn’t also be disregarded completely.

When all said and done he is still a player learning his trade; his raw talent is there for all to see. He can offer United’s forward line pace, skill and clever movement, creating space and causing disruption for defenders. His finishing needs work, but is still reasonable for twenty-one year old.

Yes, he has struggled to exert much influence so far this season. Some of his misses have been genuinely poor, but perhaps confidence is an issue for Rashford. In a side riddled with players in poor form, each miss becomes magnified and the groans get louder each time. This will no doubt be having an effect on his game.

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Decision making, finishing and final ball are all facets of his game that can be worked on. Across town Raheem Sterling is currently one of the best wing forwards in the game. However, it was only a season or two ago, that he was being habitually written off as too indecisive in front of goal and too flimsy a player to rely on. City worked hard on him and he is now at a level few predicted he’d reach.

Rashford is not identical in style to Sterling, but his potential is not too far off. United’s attacking talent is in dire need of the pace, skill and dynamism that Rashford could offer. When things are going badly wrong at a club, it’s easy for everyone to be tarred with the same brush and dismissed as not good enough. United must not lose track of their development of existing talent, during this current slump. Rashford is a player most definitely worth sticking with and figuring out.

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