Football News

Marcus Rashford should follow Hojlund’s lead and talk to one Man Utd legend – Louis Saha

By Harry Edwards

Published: 13:25, 27 February 2024

Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha has urged Marcus Rashford to learn from Rasmus Hojlund and talk to Robin van Persie about his game.

Man Utd as a whole have struggled this season, despite still being in the fight for a top four finish or at least secure European football in some form. The biggest problem has been some of their star names failing to perform, one of which is Rashford.

There is a bit of a common misconception that Rashford has been struggling under Erik ten Hag as a whole, but he had a good first campaign with the Dutchman. Last season, Rashford was directly involved in 22 goals for Man Utd in the Premier League, scoring 17 and providing five assists.

Only seven players in the league were directly involved in more goals last season than Rashford, and he finished six clear of his closest teammate. Across all competitions, Rashford had his best scoring campaign, netting 30 goals in total.

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So far this season, Rashford has five goals and two assists in 25 appearances in the Premier League, averaging 0.35 goal involvements per 90 minutes. For comparison, last season he averaged 0.69 goal involvements per 90 in the league.

Hojlund is another to have suffered at the start of the Premier League season, failing to score in his first 14 games in the competition. This was in stark contrast to his form in the Champions League, with Hojlund scoring five goals in his first four games.

A lot was made about Hojlund’s start to life at Man Utd, given the Red Devils forked out £72m to sign him from Atalanta with just 10 goals in 34 appearances for the Serie A club. But there were promising signs and Hojlund finally broke his Premier League duck on Boxing Day to help Man Utd beat Aston Villa 3-2 having been 2-0 down.

And he’s not looked back since. Hojlund has now scored in each of his past six Premier League games, netting seven times in total. He’s found the net against Tottenham, Wolves, West Ham, Aston Villa (twice) and Luton — bagging a brace against the latter.

Although the run started at the end of last year, it was recently reported that Hojlund had spoken to former Man Utd striker Van Persie. The Dutchman was visiting Carrington to take a course as part of his coaching qualifications, and Hojlund requested a private conversation with Van Persie.

According to former Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand, Hojlund was eager to learn from Van Persie, who scored 58 goals in 105 games and helped the Red Devils win the Premier League in 2012/13.

“I had a little chat with him [Van Persie], bantered him about his gear. Rasmus was there, came over to me and Fletch [Darren Fletcher] having a chat about things.

“What I loved is he saw Robin van Persie and said to Darren: ‘Can I get five minutes with him, with Robin van Persie?’ Robin says: ‘Yeah come man’. They went away and came back ten to 15 minutes later.

“Robin says he’s asking a lot of questions, the sign of someone who wants to learn, a student,” Ferdinand said on his Vibe with FIVE podcast.

“It’s nice that humility and humbleness to show. It bodes well for the future of this club.”

It’s obviously worked, with Hojlund showing a lot of confidence in his game, and his current injury is a big blow to Man Utd. And Saha believes Rashford, as well as Anthony Martial and Antony, should take a leaf out of Hojlund’s book to try and better their game.

“You have to. And if this hasn’t been done before, it’s strange,” Saha told BettingOdds of Hojlund talking with Van Persie.

“I was really boiling because I could see some mistakes that the forwards were making, basic ones where we are talking about the approach of games or calmness or pressing the ball. There are a lot of elements I’ve seen in the past few weeks where he’s definitely improved, something I haven’t seen with other players.

“I’ve been really frustrated sometimes with Anthony, Rashford, Anthony Martial. It doesn’t seem like they wanted to really change anything or wanted to really actually identify what was not working for them.

“If Robin has done that with Rasmus, all of them should be working with him. He’s a striker who has a lot of knowledge, he’s very passionate and a legend with a lot of charisma and respect from the players so the way the players can take advice from other players is a bit difficult because there are egos sometimes, but when it comes from a big player like Van Persie I think it makes sense.”

Rashford started up front for Man Utd in Hojlund’s absence as they were beaten 2-1 by Fulham at Old Trafford, having fewer touches than any other starter and just two shots.