Following Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday night, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for Marcus Rashford, who has excelled in a centre-forward role during the Red Devils legend’s interim stint in charge of Old Trafford.
The England international indirectly set up the first goal, scored by Romelu Lukaku, with a dipping free kick that Martin Dubravka spilled into the substitute’s path, before putting the three points beyond doubt by finishing off a sweeping counter attack with an incredibly composed finish.
Solskjaer told reporters after the match; “He gets kicked, and he gets tackled, he goes for headers, he wins, he challenges, he runs. That means he is going to be a top, top number nine, definitely.”
“He is going to be a top, top number nine.”
Solskjaer was quick to insist Lukaku remained in his thoughts as well, adding that Rashford will spend some games playing out wide to facilitate the Belgian. But nonetheless, his faith in the 21-year-old seems to be growing by the game, and that can only be bad news for an older, more experienced striker who has struggled to justify his price-tag since being brought to Old Trafford for £75million.
Although Jose Mourinho nearly always sought to involve Rashford in his matchday squads, the young forward made just 17 Premier League starts as a central striker during the Portuguese’s two-and-a-half seasons at the helm, with Lukaku clearly the first-choice since his arrival from Everton. In dramatic contrast, all four of Solskjaer’s Premier League starting XIs thus far have included Rashford as the front-man, producing a return of three goals and one assist.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Rashford will start every game there under Solskjaer, as the Norwegian himself has stated, and this weekend’s FA Cup clash with Reading will likely give Lukaku the chance to stake his claim for a starting berth after scoring twice from the bench in subsequent games.
But it does appear that Solskjaer views Rashford as a key part of not only United’s present but also their future, and one of his key remits in this interim role is to get the squad in order for whoever the club’s next permanent manager will be. It seems Rashford is being given the chances to establish himself as United’s next great number nine, at Lukaku’s expense.
One potential solution to get both into the team, without pushing Rashford out wide, would be to change systems. Solskjaer has only used 4-3-3 or subtle variations of the formation during his four games thus far, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was part of one of the greatest 4-4-2 sides of all time – few managers in the Premier League will have a greater admiration for that old-fashioned setup than himself.
It’s something Mourinho never really experimented with, instead feeling that a front two also required a back three. And during the three occasions this season in which the Portuguese did field two out-and-out central strikers in the Premier League, United actually failed to win a game – drawing two and losing one.
That being said, if there has ever been a time for experimentation at Old Trafford, it’s undoubtedly now during this interim period.
Former Wigan & Fulham man, Jimmy Bullard recently showed that he’s still got it! Check out the video below…