Graeme Souness reveals why Man Utd now ‘flowing’ but star’s absence becomes ‘a worry’ for Erik ten Hag

Man Utd forwards Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes

Former Liverpool star Graeme Souness is adamant that Manchester United would not be challenging for the top four without Marcus Rashford in the side.

Rashford was on target yet again on Sunday as United ran out 3-0 winners over Leicester City. The England striker bagged in the 25th and 56th minute before substitute Jadon Sancho rounded off the scoring just after the hour mark. Having scored just four times in the league last season, Rashford has now notched 14 top-flight goals this time around.

And he has found the net on 24 occasions in all competitions. The man with 51 England caps’ upturn in form has mirrored that of United’s.

The Red Devils sit third and are looking good for a return to the Champions League, with an eight-point gap back to fifth-placed Newcastle.

Indeed they are only five points adrift of table-topping Arsenal, with the Gunners having a game in hand.

A title challenge might be beyond the north-west giants but things are certainly moving in the right direction on the pitch.

READ MORE: Ten Hag criticises Man Utd’s first-half discipline against Leicester, before they dominated the second 45

Souness has been impressed by what he has witnessed at Old Trafford. But the Scot is convinced that Rashford holds the key to their continued success.

“I always thought Tottenham would get there [into the top-four] at the expense of maybe Man United, but I think Man United now are a very different animal,” he said on Sky Sports.

“Then you factor in the Marcus Rashford situation, if he gets injured then they become a worry.

“Would they be winning their games without Marcus Rashford? No they wouldn’t. Liverpool have undoubted quality with people coming back into the squad.”

Souness doubles down on Rashford stance

Rashford has scored in 17 of his last 20 appearances. His next challenge will be to complete the job on Barcelona on Thursday and advance in the Europa League.

Rashford scored one of United’s two goals in the Nou Camp and will be Erik ten Hag’s main goal threat once again on home soil.

Souness feels there is currently a feelgood factor surrounding the club. But he believes that could quickly evaporate without their main goal scorer in the ranks.

“Their dressing room right now is very much united,” he added. “They’ve beaten Liverpool, beaten Man City, they are on a roll, but without Marcus Rashford – we’re talking about that game there how fabulous he was second half, and that’s after Rashford has scored a couple of goals.

“Then everything is flowing, you’re not taking two touches, you’re doing it first-time.

“You’re not taking three touches, you’re doing it two times, and they looked a really good team, but Rashford had done the damage by getting the two goals.”

In a busy week for Ten Hag’s charges, the visit of Barca is followed by the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

Manchester United take on Newcastle United at Wembley and will be favourites to lift the season’s first silverware.

The Magpies appear to have hit a brick wall after their superb run this season and have now slipped out of the top four.

But they still possess the meanest Premier League defence and will be a tough nut to crack in north London.