Rashford's upturn in form down to his personal 'happiness', says ten Hag
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Jose Mourinho never thought Marcus Rashford could be a No 9 for Manchester United. Yet Erik ten Hag appears to think differently, with the Dutchman believing he can win the Premier League title with the 24-year-old playing down the middle. Whether he’s right or wrong, it’s shaping up to be a fascinating campaign at Old Trafford.
Manchester United saw Rashford regress alarmingly last term, with the England international toiling under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick as the club finished sixth in the Premier League table.
He netted just five goals, his lowest total since bursting onto the scene in the 2015/16 campaign.
Rashford has, however, bounced back. The 24-year-old has netted three goals from six Premier League outings so far, including a memorable brace against Arsenal last weekend.
Ten Hag thinks he can win the Premier League title with Rashford as a No 9 this term. According to The Sun, this is something he’s told his star man.
A source was recently quoted as saying: “The manager wants Marcus to be United’s No 1 striker and lead the line up front.
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“He believes Marcus has the ability to become one of the world’s best and wants him to express himself in matches.
“He is always telling him to use his pace and skills when he gets a chance. He told Marcus he will easily score 20 this season.
“They have a great relationship and Marcus is really happy.”
And Ten Hag appears to see something in Rashford that Mourinho, his old boss, never did.
Mourinho took over from Louis van Gaal back in the summer of 2016, replacing the Dutchman following his failure to guide the club to a Champions League spot.
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And he then moved Rashford to the wing, with the England star previously being a centre-forward under his previous boss.
Mourinho would lose his job in December 2018, despite winning the EFL Cup and Europa League less than two years previously.
And the former United boss, speaking in 2019 after his departure, opened up on why he didn’t see Rashford as a centre-forward.
He said at the time: “When we beat Liverpool a couple of years ago, we played with Rashford and Romelu Lukaku up front.
“He is not a target man, he is a man of movement.
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“I do not think he is a pure nine. If Ole is going to play him as he did today then I think he is the perfect player for him.
“He’s young but he is experienced. With 21 years he probably has more matches than some players who are 24, 25.
“For me he is potentially a very good player, in some models and in some positions.
“As a number nine I don’t think he has the 30 goals a season in him. I don’t think he can get better as a target man. To be better as a target man is difficult for him.”
Rashford has, however, silenced his critics.
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And United now believe they’re seeing the best version of the forward, something that’s certainly welcome given how much improvement the club need to make.
Rashford has managed to keep Cristiano Ronaldo out of the side, which is no easy feat.
Though Ronaldo is approaching the twilight years of his career, the Portugal international still remains one of the world’s best goalscorers.
However, Ten Hag seems to rate Rashford more instead.
And whether he can justify his manager’s faith in him over the course of the campaign remains to be seen.
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