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Friday, December 3, 2021

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New Manchester United strike partnership can revamp form and help Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester Evening News

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs something, anything, to go his way at the moment. The slightest glimmer of positivity. A modicum of good fortune. Even just a tiny boost.

Luckily for him, he may just get one after the international break as he will be able to deploy a new striker partnership that might just get United going back in the right direction.

It won’t fix the plethora of structural issues in the team, or get those players who are in dire runs of forms back performing again, but the duo of Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo could certainly do some good for the side.

After the break, United face Watford, Villarreal, Chelsea, Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Young Boys all in quick succession. That will be a challenging and critical period for the Norwegian’s future.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Palace are all in great form and could inflict real damage in the league, while no slip-ups can be afforded in the Champions League or qualifying for the knockout stages will be put at risk.

Then comes the busy festive period and even though the opposition looks a little easier on paper — Norwich City, Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle, Burnley, Wolves — it’s hard not to see a potential banana skin everywhere you look given United’s current malaise.

The closing months of 2021 really could be the closing months of Solskjaer’s reign if the putrid form continues.

Which is why being able to deploy a new strike force, which has the potential to be absolutely deadly, could be the saving grace that Solskjaer needs.

Rashford has made a really bright start to his own season after making his long-awaited return from injury following shoulder surgery in the summer on October 16 against Leicester City, coming back with a bang as he scored a fine goal.

Sadly it won’t last long in the memory as United lost the match 4-2, but he continued his hot streak in front of goal with the first strike in the comeback against Atalanta at Old Trafford and then wrapped up the 3-0 win over Tottenham after coming off the bench.

In just 264 minutes of action, he has three goals to his name and he isn’t even back to full fitness yet.

Rashford was initially called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the final round of World Cup qualifiers but then he dropped out, instead opting to use the two weeks to focus on getting back to 100 per cent ahead the hectic and crucial period for United.

With his fitness issues, the 24-year-old is yet to complete a full 90 minutes and hasn’t played up front alongside Ronaldo either, instead starting on the left flank, or on the bench.

Despite all the well-documented issues that Ronaldo’s lack of defensive work brings to the side, he has held up his end of the bargain by continuing to bang the goals in.

Since the switch to a back-three, and a front-two, he has played alongside Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood against Tottenham and Man City respectively.

While the former worked a treat, the Uruguayan is now injured once more as he deals with a tendon problem, the latter didn’t click so well. It didn’t help that United were abject against City, but Ronaldo and Greenwood haven’t looked on the same page at all whenever they’ve been on the pitch together.

So Rashford could be the perfect man, once club football is back, to come and play alongside Ronaldo. He can offer the pace and off-the-ball work that can make up for the lack of it from the Portuguese but still offer good link-up play and clinical finishing.

With Rashford taking the international break off he has handed Solskjaer the timely boost he needs so much, and perhaps a remedy to United’s woes.

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