Rashford or Martial? Mourinho faces tough task to keep both happy

ShareClose Comments
The attacking duo have both started the season well, but their manager has rarely chosen the pair together in a Manchester United starting XI


COMMENT

Three wins from three, 10 goals scored without reply, a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League and several players earning rave reviews far and wide. It has been quite the start for Manchester United in 2017-18.

Among the many high points so far has been the impact of Jose Mourinho’s substitutions, with the team’s tireless performances from the off helping those introduced late on in the game to capitalise on leggy, exhausted opponents. And nowhere has that been more evident than on the left side of United’s attack.

Anthony Martial came on to net late goals against West Ham and Swansea after replacing Marcus Rashford, with Martial starting and Rashford playing the super-sub role as Leicester were seen off at Old Trafford last time out. But Mourinho has now been left with the quandary of who to start in that position as United visit Stoke City on Saturday.

Rashford’s game-breaker against Leicester was followed up with two excellent performances for England during the international break. The 19-year-old came on as a half-time substitute to lead his nation to a 4-0 win over Malta and then followed that up with a mature display after an early error against Slovakia, bagging an assist and a second-half winner at Wembley on Monday.

Marcus Rashford England

But Martial has also been in good form, and the Frenchman is perceived by many to have a greater threat when through on goal. His late goals in the first two games helped to earn him his start against Leicester in the first place, and while Rashford came on to great effect, it was the starter’s work in asking several questions of the Foxes’ back-line which had helped to create tired minds for the Englishman to exploit.

So where does Mourinho go from here? While the option is always there for the Portuguese to select both Martial and Rashford to start, he has done so only nine times in 68 matches as Manchester United manager so far and the pair combined for only 58 starts between them in 64 games in 2016-17. This term, they have spent only nine minutes on the field together in four competitive fixtures.

Clearly Mourinho’s preference is to start with one or the other, with the differing threat offered by the likes of Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard on the right deemed to be of greater need than a dual direct pace option on the opposing wing. But that means making a decision between the two on a twice-weekly basis.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford Manchester United

The boss wanted to have another option down the left, with the failure to sign Inter’s Ivan Perisic his only disappointment this summer. Former England striker Gary Lineker insisted recently that United still find themselves in a privileged position to have the resources they boast on the edge of their attack.

“To have two young players like Martial and Rashford developing at United at the same time – two of the best young players in the world – is a wonderful situation for Mourinho have,” he told Yahoo Sport.

Article continues below

And while Lineker is right, he is not the man who has to keep them both happy. Martial had a down year last season following a storming first campaign in the red shirt, but as he begins to resurrect his game back to the level of two years ago, surely he will want the volume of starts to reflect such form.

Meanwhile, Rashford will be hoping to continue his development with at least as many starts as his 30 from last season. And with Romelu Lukaku having begun life at Old Trafford convincingly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepping up his rehabilitation at remarkable speed, chances to lead the line could be few and far between this term.

So how does Jose play it? Does he change the shape and balance of his side to play them both, or does he go on a charm offensive behind closed doors in an attempt to keep both of them content with playing half a season each? Whichever plan of attack he goes with, it could help to decide whether or not United end the campaign with trophies in the cabinet.

Next article:
Ozil right to retire from Germany after disgraceful treatment
Next article:
'I'm the second best coach in the world' - Dalic makes bold claim after Croatia's World Cup heroics
Next article:
Under-19s European Championships: Star players, fixtures, teams, group draw & complete guide
Next article:
Ozil announces international retirement due to 'racism and disrespect'
Next article:
Zola urges fans to give Sarri time to succeed as Chelsea manager
Close

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Show more Accept