According to Football FanCast’s recent poll, 39% of our Manchester United readers would welcome a change in role for Marcus Rashford on Monday, should Anthony Martial’s potential absence rule him out of the club’s FA Cup clash against Chelsea.
Amid reports from The Telegraph claiming the Frenchman could be sidelined for the Stamford Bridge encounter after coming off against PSG in midweek, Solskjaer faces a selection conundrum in the final third – especially as his most trusted right winger, Jesse Lingard, may miss the game as well.
But United are much better stocked on the left flank than the right, so we posed Solskjaer’s options to Football FanCast’s Manchester United readers earlier this week.
They included: Alexis Sanchez, who came on for Martial in midweek, Juan Mata, an attacking midfielder more synonymous with the opposite side of the pitch, and moving star striker Marcus Rashford back out wide, a position he served frequently under Jose Mourinho.
While there was no unanimous winner of our poll, relocating Rashford proved the most popular option with 39% of the vote. Mata, meanwhile, picked up 32% to leave Sanchez in third on 29%.
Aside from Manchester United fans’ clear faith in Rashford, the real story here is the apparent lack of faith in Sanchez.
The Chilean is the most natural fit for the role – it’s the one he’s frequented most throughout his Premier League career – however United fans would not only rather see Mata deployed there against Chelsea, but would furthermore be prepared to sacrifice a central position for the club’s wonder-boy forward who is enjoying a fantastic run of form.
It highlights just how lowly Sanchez’s stock has sunk since moving to Old Trafford just over 12 months ago, although it shouldn’t be forgotten that there is another key advantage in moving Rashford out wide that may well have influenced voters – it allows Romelu Lukaku to lead the line.
He’s endured a difficult few months, but FA Cup games represent a key chance for him to regain enough confidence to adequately support United’s late push for a place in the top four. Perhaps then, this was as much a choice between Sanchez and Lukaku as it was Sanchez, Rashford or Mata.