How Rashford’s stats with and without Cristiano Ronaldo prove axed legend WAS the problem as incredible run continues | The Sun

GARTH CROOKS claimed earlier this week that Marcus Rashford had been unlocked because of Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from Manchester United.

For some, this is a bold claim considering Ronaldo's world-renowned position as a GOAT candidate in football.

However, the numbers BACK UP Crooks' claim, with Rashford performing far better without the Portuguese talisman than with him.

Shortly before the World Cup, Ronaldo vented his frustration about a poor club season in an explosive interview with Sun columnist Piers Morgan.

He blasted the club's owners – who are now set to make way for new ones – and declared he did not respect manager Erik ten Hag.

The 38-year-old's contract was then ripped up, with him now playing his football in Saudi Arabia – providing two assists on Friday – after signing a £173million-a-year deal to play in the Middle East.


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Meanwhile, back at Old Trafford, Rashford's form has exploded, and he is the most prolific forward in Europe since the World Cup ended.

His overall record without Ronaldo sees the Englishman with 15 goals in 25 games, or a goal every 123 minutes.

On the other hand, Rashford had managed just 12 goals in 42 games, or a goal every 204 minutes, alongside the ex-Real Madrid and Juventus forward.

Other key attacking metrics have also shot up in Ronaldo's absence.

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Rashford registers 3.2 shots per 90 minutes with 1.7 of these hitting the target, while he only managed 2.9 shots with 1.2 on target with Ronaldo.

Ronaldo's departure has also seen Rashford's role in the team change.

With Ronaldo, Rashford would need to do more tracking and pressing to make up for his team-mate's lack of it, whereas now he has less work to do overall, with significantly fewer touches per 90.

But crucially, Rashford has MORE touches in the opposition penalty area.

This suggests Rashford is doing more work in the attacking third, where he can be more dangerous while leaving the task of creating to the likes of Bruno Fernandes or (currently injured) Christian Eriksen.

This was proven in the latest game against Barcelona, where Ten Hag used Wout Weghorst deeper to help bring the ball up the field while Rashford peeled off the backline.

The tactical switch stumped Barcelona's anti-Rashford plan and proved dividends as the 25-year-old lasered an effort past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

United face Leicester on Sunday at the beginning of a potentially season-making or breaking week for the club.

A Champions League spot is well and truly up for grabs this season, and with Newcastle and Tottenham in action against Liverpool and West Ham respectively, there is a chance of widening the gap to the teams below them.

A Europa League second leg against Barcelona will also see the dramatic sequel to Thursday night's Camp Nou thriller.

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While the week will end with a visit to Wembley against top-four rivals Newcastle for a chance to lift the Carabao Cup – and United's first trophy in more than half a decade.

Rashford, as he has been throughout the season, will be pivotal to these efforts succeeding.

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