Manchester United have played their third competitive match since the start of the season and two young wingers have been showing their arguments to claim the place in starting XI.
Both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial started the season on the bench. It was UEFA Super Cup final against Real Madrid and other players were given a chance before them. However, Jose Mourinho needed just 45 minutes to see it was a wrong decision.
Rashford Making A Case
After a poor first half in which Real Madrid controlled the game with ease, Rashford was introduced instead of unnoticeable Jesse Lingard. One English player made way for another one and Rashford duly took his chance. Well, not literally as Rashford did not score on the night, but his great performance was enough for Mourinho.
Rashford made his case and took the starting spot on the left wing in first two Premier League matches. Against West Ham, Rashford’s display was immense. He tormented Hammers, especially Pablo Zabaleta, but finished the game after 79 minutes without a goal or assist in a 4-0 win.
It was a somewhat similar story against Swansea. Rashford started in Manchester United’s 4-0 victory in Wales. He was not a part of any of the four goals and finished the game after 75 minutes. Yet, this time around Rashford did not excel. He was nervous throughout, unable to feed Romelu Lukaku with quality assists and having hard time against Swansea’s unusual 3-5-2 formation.
Martial Making A Case
What was common for both Man United matches in Premier League was that Rashford was substituted by Anthony Martial. The Frenchman spent 26 minutes on the pitch across two matches and had an instant impact on Man United’s game. Against West Ham he scored once and assisted Paul Pogba for his goal, while at Swansea Pogba returned the favour.
There was a lot of talk of Martial not having enough playing time to show why he was bought two years ago from Monaco. He showed he could very well against disoriented defences deep into the game, but Mourinho might opt for him next weekend in front of Rashford.
This must be a sweet problem for Mourinho. He has two young players itching to play at left wing this season. Rashford is a local kid who already showed a lot before he even turned 20. Martial, on the other hand, took all of his chances in limited time on the pitch.
Mourinho could prove a changed man this season. Not only could he start giving his attacking-minded players more freedom, but he might start rotating more. Having Rashford and Martial both in great shape, he could rotate them during a long season. There would be no media stories about unhappy players and both could give their fair share of trouble to opposing defences.
While Mourinho likes to have a settled starting XI, this is a different situation. Both players are really good and it would be hard for Mourinho to fit them both in a starting XI. Therefore, Mourinho might be just choosing the one who feels in better form at the moment. On paper, that was Martial over the last two games, but Rashford was the one playing against defences while they are at their best, during first hour or so.
It is all on Mourinho now.