Erik ten Hag says his players have to be disciplined on and off the pitch as the Manchester United boss looks to move on from Marcus Rashford’s reported Belfast escapades.
The 26-year-old has been far from his best this season, scoring just four goals, and his decision-making off the field has brought further scrutiny and criticism.
Ten Hag called Rashford’s decision to go to a nightclub party after October’s 3-0 derby defeat to Manchester City “unacceptable” and stories emerged in recent days of more late-night exploits.
Rashford is reported to have gone out in Belfast last Thursday night until 3am before reporting ill the following day and going on to miss Sunday’s FA Cup win at Newport.
United later said in a statement that “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions” and that the “internal disciplinary matter” is closed – something Ten Hag referred back to ahead of Thursday’s match against Wolves.
“He has taken responsibility and the rest is an internal matter. Case closed,” the Dutchman said.
Rashford is not the first player to be subject of internal disciplinary proceedings, with Jadon Sancho banished from September and returning to Borussia Dortmund on loan earlier this month.
There were also well-documented issues with star name Cristiano Ronaldo during his first season in charge, raising questions about whether Ten Hag’s discipline is being undermined.
“It’s nothing to do with that,” the United boss said, when asked about the respect players have for him given such matters have reared their head before.
“But, as I said, let’s focus on the game, let’s move on. I think the statement is clear and we have to focus on winning football games.”
Pushed on whether he thinks he is imposing the right discipline on his squad to win matches, Ten Hag said: “Nothing to do with that with me.
“But in football you need discipline, and that is on the pitch but also off the pitch because also there is a line between. Every player knows this, every professional knows this, what is required.”
Rashford decline: What do the stats say?
Sky Sports statistician Jayant Ganju:
It was not long ago Marcus Rashford was leading Manchester United to their first silverware in six years. His 30 goals last season was bettered only by Harry Kane and Erling Haaland among Premier League players.
He scored 16 more goals than any team-mate last season. However, this season, four Manchester United players have scored more goals than him, and is having one of his worst season’s on and off the field.
The 26-year-old’s shots on target per 90 minutes have halved and his conversion rate has also fallen drastically compared to last season.
Interestingly, he is having more touches in the opposition box per 90, which means he is getting into goal-scoring positions more often.
Additionally, the frequency of his completed dribbles has remained almost identical, so he is having similar success at taking on defenders as he did in previous, more fruitful campaigns.
The main issue this season is his shooting accuracy. His goals per 90, shots on target per 90 and conversion rate are the lowest they have been in any previous Premier League season.
Rashford on collision course with INEOS, not just Ten Hag
Marcus Rashford will mark eight years in the Manchester United first team next month. Seen as the reference point, it’s time to start acting like it again, writes Melissa Reddy.
Read the full feature here
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