EPL

Rashford hopes Ronaldo can be Man Utd catalyst in trophy hunt

By Sports Desk October 11, 2021

Marcus Rashford is thrilled to have Cristiano Ronaldo back at Old Trafford and is hoping the superstar forward can provide "a push" for Manchester United to win trophies.

The Portugal forward made a sensational return to the red half of Manchester on deadline day this year and has since scored five goals in just six appearances across all competitions – the most of any player at the club.

The 36-year-old has done so despite ranking third at United this season for total shots (23), recording the best conversion rate (21.74 per cent) of any player at the club who has taken at least eight shots.

Ronaldo's finishing and ability to find dangerous positions clearly remain at an elite level, with the forward slightly outperforming his expected goals total of 4.27 – the highest mark of any United player by some distance, with Bruno Fernandes second on 2.44.

Without Ronaldo, United last earned silverware in 2017, collecting an EFL Cup and Europa League double under Jose Mourinho, and have not won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

Rashford, however, believes having five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo back could be the catalyst the club needs in their pursuit of success.

"[Having Ronaldo back at the club is] a great feeling for me as a player, but also as a fan of the club as well," Rashford told BBC Breakfast.

"It's always nice when a club legend finds a way back to the club. To be playing with him back at Old Trafford is a terrific feeling and hopefully gives us a push to start winning more trophies."

Rashford has not played for club or country since England's penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 due to a shoulder injury.

The Three Lions star missed just four matches for United in 2020-21, making 57 appearances across all competitions in which he scored 21 goals and assisted 12.

Among outfield players in Europe's top five leagues, Rashford's 4,153 minutes were the 16th-most last season, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka (4,707) top of that list.

In the forward's five full seasons as a senior United player, Rashford made 253 appearances, second only to Manchester City's Bernardo Silva (255) in that time.

The 23-year-old – who was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester due to his campaign against child poverty – returned to full training at the start of October and is hoping to be back in action sooner rather than later.

"My recovery is I wouldn't say coming to an end, because obviously I have to keep looking after it, but I'm in a much better place physically and mentally," Rashford added.

"Last year was a very long season for me, I got this injury at the end of September, and gradually it got that little bit worse, but now I'm fully free of that, I feel much better physically and mentally."

Related items

  • Erik ten Hag: Rasmus Hojlund’s injury need not throw Man Utd’s season off course Erik ten Hag: Rasmus Hojlund’s injury need not throw Man Utd’s season off course

    Erik ten Hag insisted Rasmus Hojlund’s injury need not throw Manchester United’s season off course as the club’s failure to sign another striker in January once again came under the spotlight.

    Hojlund will miss Saturday’s match against Fulham and the midweek FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest, and is also expected to be out for next Sunday’s derby against Manchester City with a muscle injury that could see him sidelined for up to three weeks and potentially miss five games.

    It is a significant blow given Hojlund’s electric form of late – the 21-year-old Dane has scored seven goals in his last six appearances for United – and leaves Ten Hag short of options in attack, with Anthony Martial out until April following surgery on his groin.

    But Ten Hag said Hojlund was not solely responsible for United’s recent uptick in goals.

    “(Hojlund) was lately very important,” he said. “But main man? I don’t see it that way. Because I think especially (Alejandro) Garnacho is playing very strong in the last games…

    “‘Rashy’ (Marcus Rashford) is capable. (He has only scored five but) he can score. Lately, in our last games the frontline is an absolute threat, they score. Is it Rasmus Hojlund only? No, it’s Garnacho, it’s also Rashford, it’s also Scott McTominay. Bruno (Fernandes) can score a goal.

    “What gives me the confidence, in autumn the frontline wasn’t scoring, they were not even a threat. In this moment they are in very good form and a threat continually. I am quite confident that even when Rasmus Hojlund is not there, it will go on.

    “We can line up a frontline which is really strong. I don’t think there is a frontline where the opponent thinks, ‘pfft, that is easy’. No, they will fear our frontline I am sure.”

    Ten Hag has previously opened up on his desire to sign a striker last month, something United were unable to do due to concerns regarding the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

    But on Friday the manager was questioned about the decision to spend £60million on Mason Mount last summer despite the relative depth in midfield, rather than invest up front given that Martial has regularly struggled to stay fit for a full season.

    “You are a football manager?” he replied.

    “If it was that easy… I already said (about) the money. First of all, striker options are the most difficult. Especially on our level. We had two strikers.

    “I get that for Martial, but he has done for us last season great things. He is also on high payment in this club. So when you bring another one in, you strike him out. So there are all arguments not to do it.

    “Then there is Marcus Rashford, who can play very good from front position. So actually we had three strikers in our squad to fill in.”

    Ten Hag said it was “naive” to suggest signing another striker would have been so straightforward.

    “Strikers are not cheap, and when you have three strikers in your squad and you bring a number four in, that means the prospective for the others will get short,” he said.

    “We thought we had options, but when it develops during the season, I wanted to bring in a striker in the winter, but it was not possible. And already we had our problems with FFP (Financial Fair Play) in the summer of course.”

  • Leeds’ comeback win over Leicester throws Championship title race wide open Leeds’ comeback win over Leicester throws Championship title race wide open

    Leeds struck three late goals at a bouncing Elland Road to beat Leicester 3-1 and throw the Sky Bet Championship title race wide open.

    Leicester appeared to be tightening their grip on top spot after Wout Faes’ first-half header, but Leeds hit back in a roaring finish with goals from Connor Roberts, Archie Gray and Patrick Bamford.

    Daniel Farke’s side equalled a club-record nine straight league wins – set in 1931 – extending their unbeaten start to the year and closing the gap on leaders Leicester to six points.

    The Foxes, who had been 17 points ahead of Leeds at the start of 2024, had been good value for their slender lead, but were punished for some glaring misses as they slipped to back-to-back league defeats.

    Leicester were first to threaten through Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s low effort and went close again through a header from Patson Daka, whose fierce drive soon after forced Illan Meslier into a flying save.

    Daka was involved again when Leicester took a 15th-minute lead, flicking on Dewsbury-Hall’s corner for the unmarked Faes to head home at the far post.

    The Belgium defender’s third-ever goal for the Foxes was the first Leeds had conceded in six league matches and they set about making amends.

    Joel Piroe headed wide, Willy Gnonto’s shot was blocked and Leicester centre-half Jannik Vestergaard brilliantly denied Crysencio Summerville a shooting chance in front of goal.

    It was fast and furious as Leeds pinned Leicester back in search of an equaliser, but the visitors’ backline, bolted together by big Dane Vestergaard, held firm until half-time.

    Georginio Rutter curled wide early in the second period and with Leeds committing men forward, Leicester were measured and incisive on the break.

    The Foxes showed they were a step up from the opposition that Leeds had recently faced and it took another full-stretch save from Meslier to keep out Stephy Mavididi’s angled shot.

    Vestergaard then headed Dewsbury-Hall’s corner against a post and Daka thought he had put his side 2-0 up, only for his follow-up effort to be ruled out for offside.

    Mavididi raced on to Dewsbury-Hall’s slide-rule pass to shoot agonisingly wide before an increasingly frustrated home crowd was lifted by Summerville’s blocked shot.

    Daka wasted a golden chance to double the Foxes’ lead in the 73rd minute when dragging his effort off-target after another rapier counter-attack.

    Leeds were struggling to gain momentum as the game entered the final 15 minutes, repeatedly repelled by Leicester’s two walls of blue.

    But the Whites turned the game on its head with two goals in three minutes.

    Roberts, a 73rd-minute replacement for Junior Firpo, lashed home a rebound into the bottom corner after Rutter had been tackled inside the penalty area to equalise in the 80th minute.

    And with Leeds fans still celebrating, Gray took possession on the edge of the box and fired home a left-footed effort, which wrong-footed goalkeeper Mads Hermansen after deflecting off Faes and nestling into the bottom corner.

    Substitute Patrick Bamford wrapped up the points for Leeds, deflecting in  Daniel James’ sweetly-struck free-kick in stoppage time to leave Leicester shell-shocked.

  • Grace Clinton scores on England debut as Lionesses ease past Austria Grace Clinton scores on England debut as Lionesses ease past Austria

    England debutant Grace Clinton made a magical introduction with a goal in the Lionesses’ 7-2 victory over Austria in their opening game of 2024.

    Alessia Russo struck twice and added an assist at Spain’s Estadio Nuevo Mirador, taking advantage of a mistake by her Arsenal team-mate Manuela Zinsberger to open the scoring with an early goal before Clinton opened her England account with a header.

    Virginia Kirchberger got Austria back into the game, but Beth Mead restored the Lionesses’ two-goal advantage before the break with Russo completing her brace and substitute Jess Carter flicking in a fifth shortly after her introduction.

    Kirchberger nodded Austria’s second with two minutes remaining but there was still time for Mead to pounce on Lauren James’ rebound to bag a brace of her own before Rachel Daly completed the rout in five minutes of stoppage time.

    Manchester City defender Alex Greenwood wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Euro 2022-winning captain Leah Williamson and World Cup skipper Millie Bright, both sidelined with injury.

    Chelsea forward Aggie-Beever Jones earned a late maiden call-up to the senior side, taking the place of Chloe Kelly, who was being assessed for a minor injury, while Fran Kirby was initially named to the starting XI but pulled up in the warm-up and was replaced by Ella Toone.

    Zinsberger spilled Mead’s effort that allowed fellow Gunner Russo to tuck the rebound past the Austria shot-stopper inside three minutes.

    England goalkeeper Hannah Hampton was called into action for the first time to claim a free-kick, and while Austria’s Eileen Campbell had encroached on the Lionesses’ territory it was Clinton who came agonisingly close to scoring the game’s second when her effort hit the woodwork.

    However, she made no mistake moments later, opening her England account after a well-worked sequence of build-up from the back ended in a fine cross from Lauren Hemp for the 20-year-old Tottenham midfielder, on loan from Manchester United, to nod home in the 19th minute.

    Austria halved the deficit just inside the half-hour mark after Greenwood was forced to concede a corner and an unmarked Kirchberger gave Hampton no chance, powering her header home.

    Mead restored England’s two-goal advantage seven minutes later, cutting inside before firing a lovely left-footed effort into the corner.

    Sarina Wiegman made two changes at half-time, bringing on Lotte Wubben-Moy for Greenwood and James for Hemp as England piled on the pressure, Georgia Stanway forcing Zinsberger into a tipped save.

    It was Stanway’s determined pressing on her Bayern Munich team-mate Sarah Zadrazil that would allow England to win the ball high up the pitch and thread through to Russo, who bagged her brace with a low finish.

    The 61st-minute strike was the end to Russo’s evening, Wiegman ringing more changes, and it was Carter who was credited with England’s fifth goal eight minutes after her introduction in the 62nd minute.

    It was largely due to the efforts of Wubben-Moy, who nodded Mead’s corner in the direction of the Chelsea defender, who flicked past Zinsberger.

    England failed to deal with another Austria corner, and, just as in the first half, allowed Kirchberger to nod past Hampton, but the celebrations were short-lived.

    James was inches away from getting in on the action, beating three defenders before clipping an effort off the crossbar before Mead pounced on the rebound to make it 6-2, four minutes before substitute Daly completed the rout with a clinical finish.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.