Although the 25-year-old Marcus Rashford doesn’t like the noise around him, it was hard for him to avoid the criticism he received last season. As United suffered through their worst season in more than 30 years, he scored just five goals in 32 games across all competitions—his lowest total since making his senior debut as a teenager nearly seven years ago.
After a few months, Rashford and United are making progress. Rashford has scored eight goals in his last eight games, and Erik ten Hag’s team has lost one of their last 20 games. Rashford did not score in the recent 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace, which was his first game without a goal since the 2022 World Cup. However, it was his confident, almost casual pass that started the move that led to Bruno Fernandes scoring for Manchester United.
Rashford scored twice on his Premier League debut against Arsenal in February 2016, just four days after also scoring twice on his senior debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League. However, his career has not always followed the same upward run.
Rashford took advantage of his summer vacation to participate in a specialized training program in the United States after being dropped by England for their Nations League games in June and not scoring between January and the end of the previous season. United’s upturn in fortunes is being credited to Ten Hag for his tactical acumen and bold decision-making. Rashford, on the other hand, began his turnaround in Beaverton.
Ten Hag found Rashford fit, well-rested, and eager to learn when he arrived at Old Trafford. In an effort to boost Rashford’s confidence prior to the start of the season, the Dutchman met with assistant Mitchell van der Gaag several times. On the field, coaches Benni McCarthy and Darren Fletcher have held individual sessions focused on shooting and various types of finishing.
According to sources, Rashford has benefited from Ten Hag’s and his staff’s structure. Ten Hag’s first request following his appointment was for a £200,000 renovation of the main meeting room at Carrington. Additionally, selection has been more consistent.
When Rashford was under previous managers, one of his complaints was that they used his versatility to fill gaps across the attacking line. However, under Ten Hag, Rashford has been allowed to play in his preferred position on the left side of the front three more often than not.
He is staying at the training ground longer than he did last season, according to sources at Carrington, to take on more gym work and training. His strength and body shape have changed as a result of the work he has done on his heading. People who are close to Rashford believe that he is more mature and settled now than at any other point in his career.
Ten Hag was impressed in the summer that Rashford took responsibility for his own slump rather than trying to hide behind the team’s overall performance. He told club communications staff not to block questions about his England absence when Sky Sports wanted to inquire about it in the months leading up to the World Cup.
In May 2022, Rashford got engaged to his girlfriend Lucy outside of football, and this season, he has stopped working in public relations and commercials. He is regarded as a senior leader in the locker room and has made an effort to welcome new players, particularly Tyrell Malacia.
According to sources, he is one of the first people to greet youngsters called up to first-team training from the academy. When a Q&A session with the club’s under-9s reached its allotted 20 minutes, he informed staff that he wanted to stay longer. In the end, he spent nearly an hour answering questions, signing autographs, and taking pictures.
United have prioritized, with Ten Hag’s approval, extending Rashford’s contract beyond the remaining 18 months. Rashford hasn’t been afraid to keep his options open, and in the summer he had a fling with Paris Saint-Germain. Now more than ever, though, there is a feeling that Manchester United can match his ambition.
Rashford is expected to sign a contract with United by the summer, but Europe’s top clubs will continue to pursue him until he does so. There was a hunch for a while that Rashford needed a change of scenery in order to reach his full potential, which sparked speculation about moves to Madrid, Paris, and elsewhere. He went with Beaverton instead, and United are now reaping the benefits.