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September 13, 2019
Man Utd 2-1 Everton: Why Marcus Rashford needs a run at centre-forward - Alan Shearer
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Man Utd 2-1 Everton: Why Marcus Rashford needs a run at centre-forward – Alan Shearer

He did not exactly sparkle against Everton, managing only one shot at goal in his 65 minutes on the pitch, but I still think Marcus Rashford deserves to keep his place leading Manchester United’s attack.

I would love to see that happen. Rashford has clearly got huge ability and has a big future for club and country, but his situation at United at the moment is a tough one for a young player to flourish in.

As his manager Jose Mourinho points out, Rashford is playing regularly and getting minutes on the pitch – but usually that is as a right or left-sided forward.

When he gets a chance ahead of Romelu Lukaku at centre-forward, as he did on Sunday, he is under huge pressure to make that chance count because he is keeping a £75m striker out of the team.

Rashford started United’s first game of the season against Leicester at centre-forward, but before Sunday he had only started one other Premier League game, when he played on the right side of their attack against Newcastle.

That comes with the territory when you are at club the size of United, but it would be a lot easier for Rashford if they were sitting at the top of the table and playing well consistently.

Instead, United have often struggled as a team this season and have come in for a lot of criticism.

It has been a difficult environment for Rashford, yet he is still expected to make an immediate impact whenever he comes in at centre-forward – otherwise people will always question whether he should be starting in that position.

It is not surprising that he seems to play with more freedom when he is in an England shirt because, certainly for the last three or four months, international football has probably been more enjoyable for him.

United’s win over Everton moved them above the Toffees and up two places to eighth. They are nine points below leaders Liverpool

Rashford needs more than just minutes to improve

Rashford turns 21 on Wednesday, and he is still learning.

I definitely see him as a central striker, eventually, but at the moment he does not have a voice to go and complain that this is where he should be playing.

He is at one of the biggest clubs in the world, under a manager who has paid £75m for a centre-forward, and who does not play with two up front.

Put all of that together and he is in a difficult situation as he tries to establish himself.

Most Premier League minutes by players aged under 21 since February 2016
1. Marcus Rashford (Man Utd) 4,741
2. Tom Davies (Everton) 4,038
3. Dele Alli (Tottenham) 3,166
4. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester) 3,113
5. Richarlison (Watford) 2,737

Mourinho said last week that, at Old Trafford, Rashford is in the right place to develop