Marcus Rashford’s form and work rate was put under scrutiny during Ralf Rangnick’s press conference yesterday ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Aston Villa.
When asked whether he felt his United team have an ‘elite mentality’, Rangnick singled Rashford out for criticism.
‘If one of our players wasn’t giving his very best and putting his all into it, I would address that to him, you can be sure of that,’ he said.
‘So far I haven’t seen that, but still, with the some players they start well and slow off a little.
‘If we speak about Marcus Rashford for example, I think in the first twenty minutes of the game against Aston Villa he was good, on fire and was constantly involved.
‘But then after that, he didn’t play on the same kind of energetic level that he did in the first half-hour.
‘Of course we need to speak about that because he cannot do that regularly.
‘Does he need a helping hand? What does it take?’
The England man looked a dejected figure on Monday, leading to reporters asking the boss whether he should be rested from the team.
‘He is trying to give his very best and he does show that in training,’ the boss replied.
‘There have been a couple of training sessions over the past few weeks when he has performed at the highest level and that is why I always give him the chance to play again.
‘As long as he does that, he will always make my list to be involved within the starting XI. Of course, it’s about showing that on a regular basis and continuously playing at a high level.
‘For him though, like anyone else, there is still room for improvement.’
The manager is taking a risk by singling out a player and questioning his mentality in this way. It could motivate the 24 year old to pull his socks up and show everyone he is committed, but it could have the opposite effect, further undermining his confidence and his happiness.
Whether Rashford will have the opportunity to address the criticism in today’s match against the same opponents will become clear when the team is announced at 4.30pm.