Rashford provides best response to Erik ten Hag’s ‘strange’ decision

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Manchester United have been a new and improved outfit this season, largely due to the work of manager Erik ten Hag and how he has implemented a new system and brought in several fresh faces. However, the ex-Ajax boss has also introduced a newfound level of high standards at Old Trafford, with Marcus Rashford one of the many to benefit from the change.

The forward has scored 14 and assisted three in 26 Premier League appearances so far this season, being equally as influential in cup competitions as well as in the Europa League. The England international spent the early stages of the season deployed through the middle due to the lack of No 9 depth at the Theatre of Dreams, though his switch back to the wing has not hindered his form.

In fact, a short spell out of the team over Christmas has seen Rashford kick on once again. The forward was dropped by Ten Hag in December for the fixture against Newcastle as he was late for a team meeting – which he later admitted was because he overslept.

Questions were raised about the managerial decision at the time given that Rashford had looked back to his best after several miserable campaigns, with some fearing that a public punishment could be damaging to his confidence. However, it has had the opposite effect.

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Rashford came back with a bang and has gone from strength to strength since, spearheading United’s charge towards a treble and giving the Old Trafford outfit an outsider’s chance of a quadruple, if Arsenal and Manchester City crumble.

The reminder not to let standards slip by Ten Hag worked wonders with his No 10 and also set an example to his squad that even the most important players are not above the rules. Speaking about the incident, Rashford said: “For me, I never made a thing out of it, because if I was a coach, I’d have done the same. Because if you don’t have standards in the training ground, how do you expect to go out on the pitch and win consistently? It’s impossible.

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“If you’re going to allow each other to slip or have an off day, and no one says anything about it, which is at times a position that we’ve been in, once you’re in it it’s difficult to get out of it because it becomes normal. And I’ve not seen it at this club before. So for me, it was a little bit strange and it’s even more strange when you’re involved in it.

“However harsh that reminder is, it’s a reminder. For me, it was not starting a game, but you have to accept it. You have to move forward. We spoke about it afterwards a little bit, but for me, once he made that decision, it’s his decision and you have to respect it.”

It remains to be seen whether Rashford can continue to flourish this season and will commit to Ten Hag’s project further by penning a contract extension at the Theatre of Dreams, with his current deal expiring in the summer of 2024.

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