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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Dropping Marcus Rashford essential for United discipline, insists Erik ten Hag

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Erik ten Hag says it was worth the risk of dropping Marcus Rashford to the bench for Manchester United’s win at Wolves to ensure a lack of discipline did not “blow back” on the manager’s plans for the club.

The forward, who scored his 13th goal in 24 appearances this season in Friday’s 3-1 FA Cup victory over Everton at Old Trafford, overslept before the Premier League game on New Year’s Eve and the United manager felt compelled to act. “Maybe it is a risk but if you want to develop something to create a winning attitude and culture you have to go this way,” Ten Hag said.

“If you allow [players] to be undisciplined, if they don’t match the standards, values, rules we set together – that is the staff, players, and in the dressing room – then it will come back and blow in your face because on the pitch it does not then add the discipline which is necessary to win games.”

Rashford came on as a substitute for the second half at Molineux and scored United’s 76th-winner. “If it is the right person, the right characters they will react like this,” Ten Hag said. “In relation to Marcus I was quite convinced, knowing him for seven or eight months, that I could expect this reaction he showed.”

The Cup win was United’s seventh consecutive victory but Ten Hag warned against complacency. “You have to be watchful for this, we have to keep this focus and concentration,” he said.

“We have to work well during the days, in training. When we go to games we have to start with the right attitude. When we don’t, the level is that high you get hammered. If you don’t bring the mental or physical output then you get hammered.”

Anthony Martial is United’s next highest scorer with five goals but the manager is not concerned about being over-reliant on Rashford. “[At the moment] Anthony is being subbed because he can’t match the load [after injury],” he said. “That is why we are looking for another striker. The quality of Anthony Martial is so important for our game, with his movements, his ball security, the pressing he brings.

“SWe need that profile to be a threat and also Marcus Rashford enjoys a benefit from that. I am not concerned that only Marcus Rashford scores goals. I am convinced other players like Antony, Bruno [Fernandes] are capable of scoring goals.”

United are assessing a loan move for Wout Weghorst, with the Burnley striker on a short list of potential forwards Ten Hag may sign in January.

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