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Marcus Rashford is playing for his Manchester United career - Mark Critchley

Marcus Rashford is playing for his Manchester United future.

Journalist Mark Critchley joined The Football Show on Wednesday night to discuss Manchester United in the wake of their Champions League exit.

Marcus Rashford came off the bench against Atletico Madrid. The right winger/striker made no real impression in relief of Anthony Elanga. His most memorable moment was giving the ball away unnecessarily, but that's not a surprise considering his form this season.

Rashford is a beloved player inside and outside of football. But his form cost him his place in the Manchester United starting eleven and he's no longer guaranteed a place at the club in the long term. Rashford needs to play better. Rashford must play better.

Otherwise he is liable to follow Donny Van De Beek and Anthony Martial out the door.

But moving on from Rashford isn't the same as moving on from Martial or Van De Beek. He's a homegrown player. He's a Manchester United fan and he's an icon to many. Rashford will have suitors, but also detractors. But maybe larger than all of that is he's still a talented 24-year-old footballer.

A 24-year-old footballer who deals with more than most.

"With Rashford, he's a special case because of his wider profile," Critchley said.

"The work he's done outside of football, that brings a whole new level of abuse from people who aren't particularly interested in football. But they know him from his other activities. There was a survey last year about online abuse of athletes and he was second only to Lebron James in the world...he has a profile that is beyond football now."

Rashford is a quality footballer. Shifting out of the spotlight to another team might help him. But more than that, moving to a team that is settled will help him. Manchester United can't afford to lose good players willingly. So if they can bring in a manager who settles the team, Rashford can turn his career around.

This is a bad stretch of his career, not necessarily the beginning of the end of his career.

"He's going through a difficult stage in his football career itself if you just limit it to that anyway. And I think he would admit that. He has done recently. He isn't playing particularly well, he hasn't done for a while. There's various reasons for that. Whether it's because he was playing through injury before, he is supposed to be injury free now.

"But a lot of his performances still seem to be a player who is affected from fitness. And he's never really found a rhythm from two years ago, that's a long time now. He's lost his place in the team.

"When the lineups came out [against Atletico], I don't think anyone was particularly surprised that Anthony Elanga was starting ahead of him.

"That's where Marcus Rashford's football career is at the minute...either he has to win his place back, rediscover his form and play consistently well. Or we'll come to a point where his contract is up...and a decision will have to be made for his future.

"A guy you could never have imagined playing for anyone else."

Jadon Sancho is Manchester United's only long-term guarantee.


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Anthony Elanga Manchester United Marcus Rashford Ralf Rangnick