Erik ten Hag: Marcus Rashford abuse is wrong but he must accept share of blame for failings

Marcus Rashford speaks to Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag says Marcus Rashford is capable of playing much better than he has this season - Getty Images/Michael Regan

Erik ten Hag has told Marcus Rashford he must take his share of the blame for Manchester United’s struggles despite offering the striker his full backing in the face of “months of abuse”.

Rashford posted on social media in the early hours on Friday to condemn the “abuse” he says he has been subjected to “for months” and declare: “Enough is enough”.

The England striker was booed off by fans during United’s FA Cup semi-final collapse against Coventry City at Wembley on Sunday, when Ten Hag’s side almost blew a 3-0 lead only to eventually prevail on penalties after the Championship side had a last-gasp extra-time winner ruled out for offside by VAR.

Rashford missed Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Sheffield United through injury and is expected to be unavailable again for the visit of Burnley to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

It has been a torrid season on and off the pitch for Rashford, who has scored just eight goals after a career high 30 for his club last term and had his professionalism called into question over his behaviour.

Marcus Rashford arrives at Old Trafford with his head down
Rashford has endured a difficult campaign - Matthew Peters/Getty Images

He was fined two weeks’ wages after a drunken night out in Belfast in January, when he reported as too ill to train the next day and was subsequently omitted from United’s squad for an FA Cup tie against Newport City.

Three months earlier, he had been reprimanded by Ten Hag for going out until the early hours after United’s 3-0 derby defeat by Manchester City when he had training that morning.

Ten Hag expressed sympathy for the abuse to which Rashford has been subjected and said the player “needs support”.

But the United manager has also told Rashford that he must look at himself and accept there are things he has to do better, with the Dutchman highlighting his work off the ball.

Asked why Rashford’s form has nosedived so spectacularly, Ten Hag said: “That is an interesting question. He knows, I know. It has to do with himself but also to do of course with the team and in the first season and a half we had problems.

“I already said our attacking game has improved a lot after the winter. But before winter our attacking game was not good enough.

“I think it’s always the two factors I mentioned – it’s the team and it’s himself. They are of course related with each other.”

Ten Hag said Rashford was not alone when insisting that United’s attacking players “have to contribute more” out of possession by being “more disciplined, put more pressure on the ball and matching the runs better”.

‘When he’s not doing the right stuff I will confront him’

The United manager hinted that he had spoken with Rashford about this issue. “First of all I think Marcus Rashford is capable every season of scoring 25 to 35 goals,” he said. “He has the assets to do that. I am 100 per cent confident of this.

“The other thing, yeah, when he is not doing the right stuff out of possession I will confront him with this. I will give arguments and also we use data.”

Asked if there had been those conversations this season, Ten Hag added: “I think that is an internal matter.”

He also feels the absence of a settled defence because of injuries and, in particular, the loss of left-back Luke Shaw for much of the season has had a significant impact on Rashford and the way United press.

“I didn’t say they don’t do it but it can be more,” he said. “They need also backing, covering and then it’s about the team and we don’t have a consistent back four. That’s why. That is the main reason when you don’t have that in the back. For Rashy, I know he is very comfortable when Luke Shaw has his back because that’s a very good partnership.”

Ten Hag said it was important Rashford continued to be backed. “I have a lot of sympathy for Rashy,” he said. “Last year, he had a brilliant season, the best season in his career. He scored 30 goals. You see what he’s capable of.

“This season he didn’t give the performances and then people are very critical. I think we have to back him. Everyone should back him and push him to get back to the levels he was at last year.

“I think he needs support. We all know what he’s capable of. We all have to support but also to push him. He can do better than he is doing this year and we have seen that last year when he was really brilliant.”

Despite Rashford and Antony’s consistently poor form, Amad Diallo has continued to be overlooked in recent weeks for a starting place. The Ivory Coast forward – who replaced Antony after 55 minutes against Sheffield United in midweek – has yet to start a game this season even though he has impressed when introduced.

Asked if Amad being continually overlooked for underperforming players sent out the wrong message, Ten Hag said: “We have a lot of competition in the front line and especially, I know, front players you have to give them trust. But they have to prove it and there is coming a certain point that things turn around and go against them.

“There is always a thin line between giving them trust but yeah there is coming a point where other players will get more chances, that is clear.”


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