Marcus Rashford’s absence an internal matter – Erik ten Hag

47

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag describes Marcus Rashford’s exclusion from their FA Cup fourth-round triumph against Newport as an ‘internal matter.’

The English forward was absent from training at United on Friday due to reported illness.

However, subsequent media reports indicated that the 26-year-old had been spotted at nightlife venues in Northern Ireland on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

“He reported ill. The rest is an internal matter and I will deal with that,” said Ten Hag on Sunday.

When asked in his post-match news conference why the illness report was considered an internal matter, United’s Dutch manager responded, “It is an internal matter.”

Pressed on whether this raised more questions than answers, Ten Hag remarked, “For you, not for me. It is an internal matter, and I will deal with it. We will deal with it. I will deal with it.”

Commenting on BBC One, former Newcastle and England forward Alan Shearer remarked, “If it is an internal matter, you would think something is amiss.”

“There is a huge talent in there with Rashford. We saw him be disciplined last season when he was late for a meeting and he actually missed a game but something is clearly wrong, either at home or with his relationship with the football club, because he can’t keep doing this.

“He can’t waste his talent, it’s not right and he needs strong management and someone to get hold of him and say, ‘you know what, if you get to the end of your career and have huge regrets, you can’t have that’.”

Having netted 30 goals in all competitions for United in the previous season, Rashford secured a new contract with his childhood club during the summer.

However, his goal tally this season has been limited to just four, and his recent celebration following a goal in the 2-2 draw against Tottenham faced criticism from former United captain Roy Keane and ex-Spurs midfielder Jamie Redknapp.

Also speaking on BBC One, former England defender Micah Richards added: “Marcus needs to understand he is a public figure and wherever he goes there is going to be attention on him.

“Whether he is given a day off, or whatever, but then before a game he is causing more problems.

“They wanted to come to the game today and focus on it and now we are having to ask him [Erik ten Hag] what is happening off the pitch.”

Ten Hag forced to deal with more off-field issues

This season is not the first instance in which Ten Hag has had to address uncomfortable inquiries regarding one of his players. The early weeks of the campaign were overshadowed by speculation surrounding Mason Greenwood’s future with the club.

Furthermore, the club’s most expensive signing, Brazil winger Antony, is currently under police investigation following allegations of domestic abuse. It’s important to note that Antony has not been arrested or charged in either Brazil or the UK, and he denies the allegations.

In September, Jadon Sancho’s exclusion from the lineup against Arsenal resulted in a fallout that led to his removal from the first-team squad. Subsequently, he rejoined his former club Borussia Dortmund on loan for the remainder of the season.

If faced with disciplinary action, this wouldn’t be the first time Rashford has faced criticism from Ten Hag. The forward was previously omitted from United’s starting lineup in November’s EFL Cup fourth-round defeat against Newcastle as a disciplinary measure.

During that instance, Ten Hag expressed displeasure when Rashford was observed celebrating his birthday in one of Manchester’s upscale nightspots shortly after a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.

In another incident last season, Rashford found himself on the substitutes’ bench for United’s Premier League match against Wolves due to oversleeping and arriving late for a team meeting. However, upon being brought on as a substitute, he later scored the winning goal.