This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
As quoted by The Guardian, England manager Gareth Southgate has questioned whether Marcus Rashford’s best position is as a traditional number nine.
Following England’s 4-0 victory over Bulgaria on Saturday, Southgate insisted Rashford does more of his “best work” from wide areas, rather than from central positions.
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He said: “Although we have, for a long time, almost wanted Marcus to be that option as a (No) 9, I’m still not certain that that is where he is happiest and where he does his best work. A lot of his development at United was as a wide raider and he isn’t as strong as Harry with his back to goal and holding play up.
“A lot of his best work is in that inside-left channel, coming in off the line, and I don’t think that’s a problem. I just think we have to be aware that’s probably his profile and to get the best out of him they are the areas of the pitch that we need to get him into regularly.
“I think he can threaten teams in behind more. When he opens his legs and he runs in behind defences that’s the last place they want to be. We are encouraging our players to use their strengths.”
Just how do you solve a problem like Rashford? The 21-year-old has all the tools in the locker to make it as a top-class centre-forward. He has blistering pace, remarkably impressive technique when striking a ball, and oh, did we mention that blistering pace?
The United academy product has arguably seen his versatility prove to be his downfall, in that he has yet to really lock down a position. At Old Trafford this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has played him from the left-hand side and as second-fiddle to Anthony Martial.
In the opening game against Chelsea, things clicked superbly, but in the following Premier League matches, it didn’t appear to gel as well.
Romelu Lukaku’s departure has opened up a significant opening for Rashford to take advantage of this season. If he can’t prove himself to be United’s starting number nine this year, then perhaps he is better off carving out a career as a left-winger.