Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick admits he is unsure why Marcus Rashford is struggling for form after another disappointing night for the forward in Monday’s 1-0 win against Aston Villa in the FA Cup.
Rashford, who has managed just three goals for his club this season, failed to make an impact in the third-round tie at Old Trafford before being taken off with less than five minutes left.
Despite another laboured performance from United, Scott McTominay’s first-half header was enough to send them through to the fourth round, where they will play Championship side Middlesbrough.
But Rashford’s decision-making left United fans frustrated, with many questioning a key moment in the second half when he failed to make any attempt to challenge Villa ‘keeper Emi Martinez after he parried Mason Greenwood’s effort towards the penalty spot.
Asked why the academy graduate was underperforming, interim manager Rangnick said: “Actually I don’t know. I think he’s trying hard. In training he was doing well in the last couple of days, that’s why he was quite rightly in the starting XI.
“I think in the first half we found him quite often, but we also tried to get him into the box. In the second half that was not that often the case and that’s why at the end of the game I decided to make two changes with Anthony Elanga and Jesse Lingard.
“It was very important to progress into the next round. Yes [confidence is important] especially for strikers – it’s important that they score goals on and off, that there are moments of success.
“Of course it would be good, for example, for Marcus if he could score a goal but as long as he’s trying, as long as he’s training well I don’t see that much of a problem.”
Saturday 15th January 5:00pm
In less than a week these two sides will go head to head once again, but this time it will be at Villa Park and in the Premier League – live on Sky Sports – on Saturday, with kick-off at 5:30pm.