While Manchester United turned their stuttering season around from February through to March, more than one man was forced to watch patiently from the sidelines. While the media attention may have been focused on Paul Pogba, another, more reserved player went under the radar as far as the headlines were concerned.
Marcus Rashford has been working his way back to full fitness after a long-term injury threatened to end his season and the striker may just be the one to benefit from the change in fortunes at Old Trafford.
Bruno Fernandes may have only arrived at Manchester United in January but a bright opening to his career in England saw the midfielder named in the BBC’s Premier League team of the season. Having made the switch from Sporting Lisbon, the Portuguese international has been at the heart of everything good about United’s play since the start of February and suddenly, the future looks much brighter.
The top four Premier League betting markets had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men as a tempting option for a finish in the Champions League spots, prior to the break, due to the run of form they were on. Having been among the outsiders for the Champions League places at the start of the year, that represents something of a transformation.
Set to Benefit
The potential of Fernandes is huge and the long term positives are clear. Outside observers may focus on the fact that the 25-year-old has scored three goals in his first nine games for Manchester United but it’s his link-up play that has impressed his new legion of fans.
Fernandes’ brilliant free-kick assist for Anthony Martial in United’s 2-0 win over Manchester City underlined his value to the team and with Marcus Rashford returning to full fitness, the England striker could be the man to benefit most.
Rashford may still have doubters but he certainly has the backing of his teammates and, in particular, his international colleague Harry Maguire. The center-back described Rashford as the ‘most talented player’ he’d ever played with and that he’s been impressed with the striker ever since the two men linked up in the England squad. That’s a ringing endorsement from the captain but Rashford now needs to deliver on his huge potential.
One question for Solskjaer to ponder is whether he adds another striker to the United squad when the transfer window finally reopens. Odion Ighalo’s love for the club has made him a popular figure among fans since arriving from Shanghai Shenhua but there are doubts as to whether his loan move will be made permanent.
At best, Ighalo would only be used as back up but will the manager choose to move for a big-name striker as an overdue replacement for Romelu Lukaku? Only time will provide the answer to that question but with Rashford notching 14 goals in 22 league games in 2019/20, he surely deserves another chance as the club’s lone center-forward. Maguire’s backing underlines his potency and with Bruno Fernandes now pulling the midfield strings, Rashford should thrive when he returns to first-team action.