Manchester United may have encountered another problem after goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount earned England a 2-1 win at Wembley. Gareth Southgate heaped praise on both goalscorers, insisting they were “phenomenal” with their performances.
Southgate told ITV Sport: “Rashford and Mount were phenomenal with their performances. You can’t just play with the ball. We can be free-scoring but against the very best, the detail of how you defend as a team has got to be absolutely bang-on.”
After a lacklustre display in the first half, the England manager will have been delighted to see his side turn the result around, having been dominated by Belgium at the start of the game.
For all of his airs and graces, the England job was never really meant for Southgate, who himself was hastily appointed after the Sam Allardyce debacle, but he has struggled to convince the critics, though he hasn’t done too much wrong. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment, in a similar fashion, has almost always felt like a stop-gap at Old Trafford after Jose Mourinho’s infamous exit.
Rashford’s performance shows exactly why Solskjaer has a problem at Man United. The 22-year-old, who was wearing Nike’s mercurial boots to mark Black History Month, equalised for England when Jordan Henderson won a penalty in the box. Rashford then ran riot over the Red Devils in the second half as the Three Lions pushed for the winner, which was eventually scored by Mount. Per SofaScore, Rashford supplied two shots, created one key pass and registered a pass accuracy rating of 90%, whereas he didn’t take a single shot throughout the entire game against Tottenham Hotspur.
There will be some United fans out there who won’t care at all about the international break but the stark contrast in Rashford’s performances for club and country as of late should give them some cause for concern. At times, Southgate’s side exposed Belgium on the break with Mount and Harry Kane working in tandem with Rashford in the final third and the England international, who earns wages worth £200,00-per-week, capped off an incredible week with a very good performance.
Good managers get good results against tough opposition. As the old saying goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you, which is something Solskjaer’s side have been unable to do as of late. It will not be lost on some that England have just beaten the number one ranked team in the world. Whether they will be contenders for next summer’s European Championships remains to be seen.
The humiliating 6-1 defeat at home shows that Solskjaer has his work cut out if he is to salvage his managerial career. Even the most ardent Solskjaer supporters out there cannot deny the fact that United have endured a dreadful start to the season and Bruno Fernandes’ frustrations with his tactics boiled over at the half-time break. So, the Red Devils will need Rashford to be at his very best when he returns to Old Trafford. One thing is for sure, Solskjaer will need to rely on him in the weeks ahead as if the United star goes back in his shell, fingers might end up getting pointed at the Norwegian.
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