Sorting by


Man Utd fans want Rashford out and he’s FFP gold

Rashford was once the symbol of United’s new dawn but his spectacular collapse over the last six months cannot just be ignored 

February 21, 2024 12:32 pm

It is almost eight years to the day that Marcus Rashford made his debut for Manchester United against Midtjylland in the Europa League. He scored twice in a 5-1 win. Three days later he made his Premier League debut against Arsenal, against scoring twice in a 3-2 victory. A star was born, a player to lead the post-Fergie generation against the oligarchy at Stamford Bridge and state-powered Manchester City.

Except it was never a fair fight and Rashford alone, as brightly as he has shone, was never going to be enough. It is 11 years since United’s last Premier League title and the club has finally reached an accommodation with that reality.

The approval of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s acquisition of a 27.7 per cent stake in the club and control of the sporting operation at Old Trafford signals a new beginning, but this United is not setting out from a position of strength.

After eight years swimming against a largely blue tide of one shade or another, Rashford and United find themselves at a crossroads. A fully committed Rashford, the one who smacked 32 goals last season, would be central to Ratcliffe’s vision. However, Ratcliffe and his new regime cannot unsee the last six months.

The recent signs of a revival demonstrated by Rashford, though welcome, have suddenly acquired a different value to United. Sale value, one that becomes ever more relevant following the looming departure of Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid.

PSG have identified Rashford as a player capable of filling the Mbappe gap. With United wrestling with profitability and sustainability regulations, the sale of Rashford has particular appeal since, as an academy recruit, any sum raised is pure profit.

That, combined with the removal from the ledger of his huge wages, amounts to a significant financial gain to contribute towards the rebuild.

Rashford is in one sense a victim of United’s prior profligacy in wasting £1.19bn on poor recruitment.

Had he had around him a Ratcliffe-shaped infrastructure from the outset Rashford might have had more to show for his eight years of high-end delivery. Moreover, the need to sell might not be so compelling.

Few have come to represent the Manchester United ideal more impressively than Rashford in the thin years post-Ferguson. He has given every fibre of his being to the cause since that iridescent debut in 2016.

During the Covid interregnum he even became a figure of national renown when he took on the British state and forced the government into a policy U-turn over the provision of free school meals for impoverished children. No player will score a greater goal that that in the service of their country.

However, Ratcliffe’s arrival coincided with a point in his career when Rashford looked lost. The player who notched his 32 goals last season and who signed a new £320,000-a-week contract in July had been replaced by an imposter, a shadow Rashford – disengaged, aimless, troubled.

Though he offered no explanation for his form his distraction was clear. The world was left to speculate about his mental health following the split with high school girlfriend and former fiance Lucia Loi last summer.

Who knows what kind of emotional toll this kind of stuff takes on a high-profile footballer with nowhere to hide? Pictures of them together in the autumn suggested a reunion, but elsewhere there were signs of Rashford unravelling.

Hours after the crushing 3-0 home defeat to City in October Rashford was pictured celebrating his birthday in a Manchester club.

And then there was last month’s notorious 12-hour Belfast bender, the scale of which would have made George Best blush. Instead of making headlines on the pitch Rashford was driving the news agenda with tales of a nightclub tryst and reports of a subsequent row in his hotel which ended with a woman being thrown out of his room.

And all of this when he should have been on duty with United. The apology he issued for missing training the next day was ultimately accepted and began the rehabilitation to something like the Rashford we witnessed last season. Against Luton he was much improved, but there remains a lack of defensive focus and a readiness by United fans to expose it.

A clip of Rashford ambling into the contact zone late in the game at Luton when United were defending a slender 2-1 advantage went viral. Ross Barkley went round him as he would a rubber training mannequin. The reaction of the supporters suggests the emotional bond with one of their own is irrevocably weakened.

Should Rashford depart for Paris in the summer there is unlikely to be any of the resignation that met with Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Madrid in 2009, or David Beckham’s six years earlier, for that matter.

All players endure indifferent periods. Rashford’s sudden collapse showed just how important he was to the old United. But a new dynamic is in play at Old Trafford, and Rashford might just be sacrificed on its altar.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button