Ralf Rangnick has highlighted Marcus Rashford’s excellent performances in training, and believes a goal or two in the coming weeks can reignite the Manchester United forward’s season.
The local hero’s current spell without scoring is his longest since 2016 – his last strike came in the impressive 3-0 win at Tottenham on 30 October, not long after he returned to action after a serious shoulder problem.
But interim manager Rangnick says that Marcus’s quality and effort in training have not dipped, and that an injection of football’s most precious commodity, confidence, is probably all that the 24-year-old needs.
“As a striker we all know that it’s all about playing well scoring goals and getting assists,” explained the German, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League reunion with Aston Villa, who we defeated 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup on Monday.
“If that does not happen over a period of time, it is sometimes not easy. But he is trying to give his very best and he does show that in training. There have been a couple of training sessions over the past few weeks when he has performed at the highest level and that is why I have always given him the chance to play again.
“As long as he does that, he will always make my list to be involved within the starting XI. Of course, it’s about showing that on a regular basis and continuously playing at a high level. For him though, like anyone else, there is still room for improvement.”
Speaking to the press ahead of this weekend’s game in the Midlands, Ralf said that he believed Rashford’s best form was not too far away, and pointed to the opening 20 minutes of the cup tie against Villa as evidence.
“I think in the first 20 minutes of the game against Aston Villa, he was good,” assessed Rangnick. “He was on fire and constantly involved.
“But then after that, he didn’t play on the same kind of energetic level that he did in the first half-hour. Of course we need to speak about that because he cannot do that regularly.
“Does he need a helping hand? What does it take? But I don’t see any of the players who do not care about the club or do not want to perform at the very highest level.”
Ralf went on to explain that the performances of individuals had to be considered within the context of the team. In other words, if the side is not playing fluently, it’s hard for players to flourish independently.
Echoing comments made by Cristiano Ronaldo in this week’s widely shared interview with Premier League Productions, Rangnick claimed that the best way to improve individuals is by building the team’s collective belief via results, plus frank and honest conversations.
“We have to work and develop as a team together,” he explained. “If it’s necessary to speak in a very direct manner to the boys in the locker room, then we will. If the boys want to do that or I will also do that directly myself.
“But again you can only develop individual players if we first develop the performances of the team. This is the only way.
“We first must get the results and then the confidence will come. The confidence level will raise and then we can look at developing the players individually.”