Ten Hag was confident that the in-form Rashford would respond well to risky bench presses
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Erik ten Hag was confident that Marcus Rashford would react correctly to his manager’s risky decision to bench him after he turned up late for a meeting.
Rashford was dropped from Ten Hag’s starting line-up for Manchester United’s away game against Wolves on 31 December for disciplinary reasons. It later emerged that Rashford had overslept and was late for a team meeting.
Ten Hag brought on Rashford with the goalless game at half-time at Molineux, to great effect as the striker scored the winner.
Rashford then scored in the following two games, a 3–0 Premier League win over Bournemouth and a 3–1 FA Cup win over Everton.
Ten Hag believes it was necessary to drop Rashford to set the standard he wants, although he added he was confident the 25-year-old would respond as positively as he has.
“Maybe it’s a risk,” Ten Hag told reporters. “But if you want to develop something, if you want to create a winning mentality or a winning culture, I think you have to go down this path.
“If you allow them to be undisciplined, if they don’t live up to the standards, values and rules that we have set as a team and that the staff put in the dressing room, then it will come back.
7 – Marcus Rashford became the first Manchester United player to score in seven consecutive home games in all competitions since Wayne Rooney between February and April 2012. Theatre. pic.twitter.com/dJU5Z2TRCp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 6, 2023
“It will blow up in your face on the pitch, because then you won’t act in a disciplined manner on the pitch, which is necessary to win games, it’s about top-class football. So it’s a big responsibility.
“If it’s the right people, with the right characters, that’s how they’re going to react. And so I was pretty confident about Marcus.”
Rashford’s goal against Everton on Friday means he has now scored in five straight games while becoming the first United player to score in seven straight home games in all competitions since Wayne Rooney in 2012.
Despite Rashford’s impressive goalscoring record, United are looking for another striker, with Anthony Martial coming in and out of the team with injuries so far this season.
“There’s a reason, because he [Martial] can’t handle the load for many games at this moment,” added Ten Hag. “That’s why we’re looking for another striker.
“It’s not that we don’t rely on him [Rashford], but it’s a physical strain that’s not so great at this moment that he can’t play every third game every third day, a game of 90 minutes. I have to do that together with him.”