Monday 22 July 2019

An analysis of Marcus Rashford’s improved form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Rashford has five goals under Solskjaer and had only three under Jose Mourinho.

Marcus Rashford has found a hot vein of scoring form (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Marcus Rashford has found a hot vein of scoring form (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Tom White, Press Association Sport Data Journalist

Marcus Rashford’s prolific form under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued with a goal in Manchester United’s win over Brighton on Saturday.

Interim manager Solskjaer said Rashford is “playing the best football in his career” and “can be absolutely top class” after watching him score his fifth goal in six league games.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at Rashford’s improvement using his scoring record and additional data from analytics company StatsBomb.

Goals and assists

Rashford, left, is embraced by team-mates after his winner against Tottenham (Mike Egerton/PA)

Rashford quickly set the tone for Solskjaer’s reign with a third-minute opener against Cardiff in the first game after the change of manager.

He was kept at bay by Huddersfield next time out but has scored in every game since, giving him five goals under Solskjaer compared to three this season with Mourinho in charge.

Rashford’s assist for Paul Pogba’s first goal in the 4-1 win over Bournemouth was his only one since Solskjaer took charge, compared to five this season under Mourinho.

Scoring chances

Looking at advanced data from StatsBomb, Rashford’s increased effectiveness under Solskjaer becomes clear.

The 21-year-old has taken more shots, 26, in 502 minutes of football under his new manager than his 19 in 846 minutes under Mourinho.

That represents a shot every 19.3 minutes under Solskjaer compared to one every 45 minutes under Mourinho, and the quality of his chances has also improved in line with his switch to a more central position.

(PA/StatsBomb graphic)

Using expected goals (xG), a method which seeks to calculate the chances of scoring from a given shot based on the striker’s position on the field, the type of attempt and the defenders in his way, we can measure the returns on Rashford’s opportunities.

His two shots per match under Mourinho were worth an average of 0.20xG per 90 minutes, equivalent to a goal every five games or roughly two in the 846 minutes he played prior to Mourinho’s exit.

He over-performed that expectation by scoring three times and has continued to do so, with his 4.7 shots per game under Solskjaer worth an average of 0.54xG per 90, or three in the 502 minutes he has played – Rashford, of course, has five.

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