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Other SportsWorst in the league? Manchester United great Hughes slams Rashford's off-ball work

Worst in the league? Manchester United great Hughes slams Rashford’s off-ball work

Manchester United legend Mark Hughes has taken aim at Marcus Rashford’s off-the-ball work, claiming the forward is one of the Premier League’s worst players when out of possession.

Rashford was benched by Erik ten Hag for United’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday, with Alejandro Garnacho, Antony and Rasmus Hojlund preferred in attack to the out-of-form England international.

Having scored 30 goals in all competitions last season, Rashford has only netted twice in 19 appearances at club level in 2023-24.

The 26-year-old’s work rate was called into question after United suffered a dismal 1-0 defeat to an energetic Newcastle United side last Saturday, with former Red Devils captain Roy Keane accusing him of failing to track back and questioning his body language.

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His criticisms have been echoed by former striker Hughes, who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups during two spells with United between 1980 and 1986, and 1988 and 1995.

Speaking to former England boss Sam Allardyce on the ‘No Tippy Tappy Football’ podcast, Hughes said: “The lads need to track back and if they lose possession, they have to regain it as quick as they can.

“If you compare them [United] to how Man City react when they lose the ball, it’s chalk and cheese. If Phil Foden loses the ball on the right hand-side, he wins it back, same with Jack Grealish.

“Rashford is an outstanding talent and is one of the best in the league when it comes to taking someone on, but without the ball, he’s probably one of the worst. He’s got to sort that part out.”

Rashford’s strong 2022-23 season came after his United future was called into question in 2021-22, when he managed just five goals in 32 appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

Hughes does not believe Rashford lacks a desire to contribute out of possession, instead questioning whether the attacker has lost his focus.

“I don’t think the players go out with the intention of not trying, that doesn’t happen, but I think Rashford has slipped back into the mindset that he had prior to last season,” Hughes said.

“He doesn’t look happy. He obviously had a lot going on outside the game which maybe took something away from him.

“Perhaps he just needs to focus back solely on what his role is when he’s asked to put on the shirt for Man United.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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