Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag admitted the team are over-reliant on Marcus Rashford, after he scored the winner as they beat Brentford 1-0 in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Wednesday to climb back into the top four.
Since the World Cup ended in December, only Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (12) has netted more league goals in Europe’s big five leagues than the England forward (11).
Overall, only Erling Haaland (42) and Kylian Mbappe (31) have scored more times than Rashford (28) in Europe’s big five league’s this term.
United’s other strikers are Wout Weghorst, who has scored twice in 19 matches and Anthony Martial, who has six goals in 16 games but has been injured for much of the season.
“Yes, it’s the truth,” conceded ten Hag, when asked if the Red Devils are too reliant on Rashford.
“But we know other players can score as well.
“Bruno (Fernandes) can score as well. We have many more players across the squad who can score.”
Rashford has found the net 19 times at Old Trafford this campaign, the most by a United player since Wayne Rooney, the club’s all-time top scorer, also netted 19 at home in 2011-12.
The 25-year-old’s 10 winning goals in the Premier League are the most by a Red Devil in a single season since Rooney in 2009-10.
“We are in that period of the season where every game is important and every game counts, so we are pleased to win,” Rashford said.
“We are not going to play our best every week, but there is never a time to drop our standards and we have to keep trying to push each other.”
The victory was a perfect response following a 2-0 defeat by Newcastle United on Sunday and lifted the Red Devils to 53 points, three ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and level with the Magpies in third.
United started brightly, forcing a series of corners and free kicks and, when the breakthrough came in the 27th minute, it was from another set piece.
A Brentford clearance from a corner only made it as far as winger Antony on the edge of the box.
He lofted it towards Marcel Sabitzer, and Rashford met the Austrian’s bouncing headed knockdown with a sumptuous half-volley that gave David Raya no chance.
David de Gea almost gave Brentford a lifeline early in the second half when his loose clearance cannoned into Ivan Toney. But, luckily for the United goalkeeper, the ball bounced to safety.
“We want to play as a machine and not make mistakes,” said ten Hag.
“We made one mistake and thankfully they didn’t benefit from it. This is a massive win.”
United could have sealed the game in the 80th minute as Rashford broke down the left and squared to Fred, but the Brazilian blazed the ball high over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Brentford poured forward in the closing stages, but the closest they came to scoring was an audacious chip from Toney that drifted harmlessly over the bar as the hosts held on.
Said Bees boss Thomas Frank: “We’re just disappointed that we didn’t get anything of it.
“That’s crazy because we were playing Manchester United. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of who we are and what we have done.”
Looking for a top-four finish that will give them a crack at Champions League football next season, Rashford said consistency would be key for United as the Premier League heads into its final phase.
“Hopefully we can build on that and get back to where we were a couple of weeks ago,” he said.