Manchester United great Andy Cole is lost for words regarding Marcus Rashford’s huge dip in form this season, warning the forward that elite players are not allowed a season off.
Rashford was one of the brightest sparks of a promising first campaign at the helm for Erik ten Hag in 2022-23, scoring 30 goals as United finished third in the Premier League and won the EFL Cup.
However, with United enduring an underwhelming start to 2023-24, Rashford has only hit the net once in 16 appearances across all competitions at club level, embarking a 12-game goal drought since scoring in September’s 3-1 defeat to Arsenal.
Rashford also endured a poor campaign in 2021-22, only starting 18 matches and scoring five times as the Red Devils toiled under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
Cole, who scored 93 Premier League goals for United between 1995 and 2001, says Rashford cannot afford fallow seasons if he wants to be considered as one of the world’s best forwards.
Asked what has been missing from Rashford’s displays this campaign, Cole told Betfred: “I don’t know. I really, really don’t know.
“His form was phenomenal last season, but if you look at his form from two years before that, it was similar to what it’s like now.
“The freaks such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo never took a season off.
5️⃣0️⃣ Premier League matches
1️⃣7️⃣ different goalscorers
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 19, 2023
“Around 20 years at the highest level and they never took a season off. That’s what you’ve got to be like to play at that elite level.
“Only Marcus knows what’s going on in his head at the moment. His form over the last four or five years has been inconsistent and I don’t know what he can or can’t do to get himself back on track.
“He starts week in, week out and that’s something that every player wants.
“If I had one goal to my name in 16 appearances, then I’d go right back to basics on how I train, how I finish or whatever it may be. I’d do whatever it took to get me back into form.”
United resume their Premier League campaign with a trip to crisis club Everton on Sunday, having eased the pressure on Ten Hag somewhat with four wins in their last five league matches.
Cole, however, still sees plenty of reasons for concern, saying: “If Manchester United were playing attacking, galvanising football and the results weren’t going their way, then we’d all say it was unlucky, but I think we can all see that hasn’t been the case.
“No disrespect to Luton, but 10 years ago if they travelled to Old Trafford, they would have been expecting a hiding and being on the end of five or six goals.
“For Manchester United to only win 1-0 at home, the victory was masking their struggles.
“Against Fulham they won with a late goal, so people may think that they’ve got a couple of wins and they’re back on track, but I wouldn’t assume that’s the case.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 21, 2023