Three-in-three Marcus Rashford must ‘seriously raise his game’ if he wants to avoid England Clamour

Editor F365
Marcus Rashford and Gareth Southgate with the England badge
Marcus Rashford and Gareth Southgate with the England badge

There needs to be a narrative from an international break and this week, we are all pretending that Marcus Rashford is in awful form (he’s scored more than Bellingham, Toney or Gordon in 2024) and will be dropped.


Rash decision
There is inevitable speculation about the likely make-up of the England squad in the English media (like the England ladder but not as good), with The Sun‘s Charlie Wyett along those trying to ramp up the notion that Marcus Rashford is likely to miss out.

Yes, the same Marcus Rashford who has more England goals than any other current player bar Harry Kane. Yes, the same Marcus Rashford who has played 57 games under Southgate and has been in every England squad since the World Cup, where he excelled. That Marcus Rashford.

First, what kind of lunatic narrative is this?

Either way, it is a tournament the England manager has to win.

This is the new Golden Generation and this one must deliver.

Ludicrous. England are quite rightly one of the favourites but France are World Cup finalists. And Germany are the hosts. If you’re thinking that this is a tournament England ‘have to win’ then you are one of the myriad reasons why England are likely to fail.

Southgate possesses a reputation for sticking with his favourites while refusing to pick players on form.

Yet the dramatic elevation of Kobbie Mainoo – and Ivan Toney’s selection after his betting ban – is proof that there is recognition and reward for those who tear it up in the top flight.

Pesky fact: Ivan Toney has not scored in his last five Premier League games. Toney has been picked precisely because he is a favourite of Southgate; Ollie Watkins is the striker currently ‘tearing it up in the top flight’.

In contrast, Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling and Dele Alli will testify that Southgate can be a smiling assassin with little regard for big reputations and often there is NO way back.

There is sometimes a chance of salvation. John Stones (16 months) and Kyle Walker (15 months) were both bombed out of the England squad for long periods and had to fight incredibly hard to get back into the reckoning.

Wyett has conveniently forgotten the small matter of Covid here; Stones was ‘bombed out’ for three international squads at the back end of 2020 while Walker was ‘bombed’ out for three international squads at the back end of 2019. Neither missed a tournament.

Even so, Raheem Sterling looks stuffed for the Euros, even though he was England’s best player at the same tournament three years ago and has a wealth of experience with 82 caps.

And this is a warning as to why both Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish need to sort themselves out and end the seasons with a flourish.

Now Sterling has definitely been ‘bombed out’. Unlike Rashford, who is nowhere close to being bombed out. And has also – and this seems important – scored in his last three Manchester United games, making it six goals in his last 12 club games. What exactly does he need to ‘sort’?

Rashford has to seriously raise his game. He has scored 17 goals in 60 games for England but remains infuriatingly inconsistent and previously irked Southgate by the number of times he has pulled out of squads.

See above. We’re not sure how he ‘raises his game’ from scoring in three consecutive matches.

And ‘previously irked’ is the key here; he has pulled out of one squad since returning to the England fold for the 2022 World Cup. Southgate has spoken extensively about his importance since then.

Although he suffered a poor start to the season with Manchester United, Rashford played well in the 3-1 win at Scotland in September and scored against Italy in the 3-1 triumph in October.

Since then, Rashford continued to struggle for United and let himself down with an unauthorised trip to Belfast in January which included a 12-hour Tequila bender. Southgate would have been both concerned and hugely unimpressed.

Well he clearly hasn’t ‘continued to struggle’ in recent weeks. And Southgate called him up for these March friendlies, suggesting he is very much part of his plans.

Although Watkins was poor against Brazil, if he breaks the 30-goal barrier for Aston Villa and Rashford continues to look lost, Southgate could end up axing the United star.

‘Continues to look lost’? He’s fresh off the back of scoring an extra-time equaliser v Liverpool in the FA Cup. And we do feel a tad sorry for Watkins, but he has started back-to-back England games without making an impact; it probably doesn’t matter if he breaks the 40-goal barrier for Aston Villa.


More Rash decisions
Over to the Daily Mirror now and John Cross has a card he wants to play…

England stars Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish are in serious danger of missing out on the Euros.

Manchester United forward Rashford must rediscover his form while Grealish has been plagued by injury which has put his place in the squad in serious jeopardy even if UEFA decide to allow nations to name 26 man squads. England boss Gareth Southgate admitted that he wanted to look at other contenders ahead of Rashford for the back-to-back friendlies with Brazil and Belgium.

He really must ‘rediscover his form’; after all, a grand total of six English players have outscored him so far in 2024, all of whom are in the England squad barring Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

He has scored the same number of goals (5) in 2024 as Jarrod Bowen and is ahead of Ivan ‘tearing it up in the top flight’ Toney as well as Anthony Gordon and golden boy Jude Bellingham.

And is it possible that Southgate ‘wanted to look at other contenders ahead of Rashford’ because he’s certain about Rashford but needed to see Gordon and Bowen? That’s certainly why Watkins has been picked ahead of Harry Kane in several Autumn internationals.

Southgate names his provisional squad for the Euros on May 21 and the clock is ticking for Rashford with Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Cole Palmer, Anthony Gordon and potentially Jarrod Bowen ahead of him.‌ Rashford, who was fined by United earlier in the season after going on a boozy trip to Belfast, was just a substitute against Brazil and was fit for selection against Belgium but did not get any minutes‌.

The slight problem with that list of players ‘ahead of’ Rashford is that most of them don’t play in the same position. Saka is England’s first-choice right-winger, Foden is England’s first-choice left-winger, and Cross has then named two more forwards who don’t play on the left. Rashford’s direct competition comes from Grealish and Gordon, who has started one friendly England game.

And Gordon is not ‘ahead of’ Rashford after that one game. Unless you are desperate for a back-page headline, that is.

READ: The F365 England ladder has Rashford keeping his place


All of the Rash decisions
Mediawatch expects a little better from The Guardian than this:

Rashford’s England rivals circle as his United slump goes international


And the Daily Telegraph say: ‘Despite being without captain Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka, England manager Gareth Southgate gave Rashford just 15 minutes across the final friendlies, against Brazil and Belgium, before he names a provisional squad for the Euros.’

Yes, despite being without two footballers who play in different positions, Southgate gave Rashford just 15 minutes across two friendlies.

And despite England being without Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson didn’t get off the bench at all. Clearly, he is toast.