"It's been two or three months and there is talk of Rashford being moved on. Seriously? No manager in their right mind would come to Old Trafford and offload him." Paul Merson acknowledges recent struggles of Marcus Rashford but dismisses notion of him leaving Manchester United
Wednesday 9 March 2022 20:36, UK
Marcus Rashford is suffering from his first major confidence crisis at Manchester United but the prospect of him leaving Old Trafford cannot be entertained by a club in even greater turmoil, says Paul Merson.
With Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani out injured, Anthony Martial on loan at Sevilla, and Mason Greenwood unavailable, Ralf Rangnick left Rashford on the bench for Sunday's Manchester derby, a decision described as the "ultimate putdown" by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.
"That's got to be the ultimate put down for Marcus Rashford today," former United captain Neville said. "The four other centre-forwards he started the season with are not here and he still can't get into the side. It tells you where Rashford is at, where Rangnick thinks he is at."
Trailing 2-1 and chasing the game, United turned to Rashford for the final 26 minutes at the Etihad but he underscored his struggle for form this season with an uninspiring performance as City inflicted a sobering 4-1 defeat on their rivals.
Rashford's future at Old Trafford has been on the agenda in the aftermath of the derby, with reports claiming the England international is the subject of interest from Paris Saint-Germain.
It's a scenario Merson believes simply cannot come to fruition, irrespective of the player's recent struggles.
"It's been two or three months and there is talk of Rashford being moved on. Seriously?" Sky Sports pundit Merson said.
"No manager in their right mind would come to Old Trafford and offload Rashford. Even if I was going to take over the club as manager tomorrow morning, I wouldn't be letting Rashford go!
"This is why Manchester United are in a shambles, how haven't they got a manager in place now. Whoever does come in as manager isn't going to get rid of Rashford, so the move will have to be done before then, that's if it is going happen."
Since bursting onto the scene at Old Trafford with memorable doubles against Midtjylland and Arsenal on his European and Premier League debuts for Manchester United in 2016, Rashford has ridden a wave of positivity to consistently produce for club and county.
But Merson believes Rashford has been hamstrung by his first serious drop in confidence, which has only been exacerbated by having to rekindle his form in a team struggling on the pitch themselves.
Merson empathised with Rashford's struggles and was confident the 24-year-old could get back to his old ways soon, providing he keeps things simple of the pitch.
"Everything has been great since Rashford came on the scene, you couldn't write it in a book if you tried," Merson said. "Now he has lost confidence and he's finding it hard. His confidence is shot.
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"This is first time he has lost it since he walked into the Manchester United team. From the moment he made his debut against in the Europa League, scored those two goals, I don't think he has been without that confidence.
"Against City I remember him taking on three players, but the run was just token gesture, you could see he didn't have the conviction that he was going to go past anyone.
"I feel sorry for Rashford. It's a horrible feeling when you lose your confidence in football, but even more so when it happens for the first time.
"He's not getting a run in the team so when he does come on, he always seems to be chasing the game and he's trying to do too much.
"He's got to get back to playing simple and build his confidence. He's got to get back to basics and, all of a sudden, his confidence will come back because the kid is a good player, you don't become a bad player overnight."
As for Rashford's club Manchester United, Merson was less than optimistic for their future on and off the pitch after Sunday's drubbing at the hands of Manchester City.
"People are getting a bit carried away with how much of a shock it [Man City's 4-1 win] was, I'd have been shocked if Manchester City hadn't won by three goals," Merson said.
"But there are ways to lose football matches, and at 3-1 Manchester United literally gave up. You might as well have just stopped the game there and then and let everyone go home.
"I'm not shocked. We've seen it before for United, they were just as bad in October at Old Trafford, City just didn't score as many goals that day.
"No disrespect, but it looked as though a team from the Conference were playing Manchester City. The possession stats from the final 15 minutes, 92 per cent to City and eight per cent to United, were generous - I don't remember United having that much of the ball!
"Manchester United are a million miles off. The club are the same on the pitch as they are off it - a bit of a shambles.
"An interim manager is in place, and then they are going to look for someone permanent in the summer, which will give whoever they appoint a month or two to get the team ready to try and challenge Manchester City and Liverpool again.
"It's impossible, absolutely impossible."