Man Utd have long-term problem with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial


For Marcus Rashford to have been caught offside five times against Liverpool last ­weekend – four times in the first half – was unforgivable.

It was Under-11s stuff and I’d have been embarrassed if that had been me.

But the simple truth is that Rashford’s propensity to wander ­offside too often is the culmination of all those years he has been played out wide rather than used as the central striker I have long believed he can be.

The problem he and Anthony Martial have both had at Old Trafford is that they have come through as kids.

I know Martial was signed for a big fee, but he was young when he walked through the door and there has always been a Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Edinson Cavani ­playing through the middle.



Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have played most of their football out wide
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have played most of their football out wide

United, like so many clubs these days, like to play with a front three.

Solution



Edinson Cavani will not be around for the long term
Edinson Cavani will not be around for the long term

 

So the easy decision for managers to make with young, quiet kids is to chuck them on the left or right and, happy days, they’ll score goals and they won’t be banging his door down to play in the centre role because they’ll just be happy to be playing.

The problem for United now, though, is that Cavani isn’t going to be their long-term solution and that leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a decision to make.

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Does he look to buy a £100million striker? Or does he finally get hold of Rashford and Martial and teach them how to be the top-quality central ­strikers they both have the quality to become?

I know United fans might be ­thinking, “Stop being pernickety, Collymore. We’re challenging for the title and both score goals from where they are. Look at Liverpool, they haven’t got a striker, either…”

But the difference between winning the Premier League and going deep in the Champions League or finishing in the top four and winning the Europa League, FA Cup or League Cup is ruthless finishing.

Masters



Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows all the tricks of the striker trade
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows all the tricks of the striker trade

And, at the moment, neither Rashford nor Martial fits the mould of someone who can do that in the same way Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer himself did when they all wore the red jersey.

The culmination of all those years out wide is that Rashford and Martial – and I’m convinced 99 per cent of United fans will agree with me on this – have become Jacks of all trades and masters of none.

But it doesn’t have to be like that because Solskjaer could go to either of them and say, “Right, that’s it, you’re playing as the No.9, end of story.

“I’m going to show you how to play with your back to goal, how to hold the ball up, lay it off, bring others into play, receive the ball and turn on a sixpence.

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“I’m going to teach you the trade and the dark arts of it inside out, and at the highest level that will make all the difference”.

I know Rashford said a couple of weeks ago that he’d modelled his game on Thierry Henry’s.

But, with the greatest will in the world, Henry could score 35 goals a season coming from out wide – and Rashford can’t.

With his build and physicality, though, he could play through the middle and, unless United move him there and leave him there, they won’t ever get the best out of him.

What they must ask themselves is whether they want to be clinicians or just the best of the rest?

Because if it’s the former, then Solskjaer has to make the change now.

How should Man Utd solve their long-term striker problem? Have your say below.





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