Erik ten Hag says Marcus Rashford’s attendance of a birthday party after Manchester United’s 3-0 defeat to Man City last weekend was “unacceptable”.
Speaking in the embargoed section of the pre-match press conference ahead of the Premier League match against Fulham at Craven Cottage tomorrow, the manager was asked if he was aware what Rashford had done.
“Yes, I am aware of it, I spoke with him about it. It’s unacceptable. I told him. He apologised and that’s it. For the rest, it’s an internal matter.”
Rashford was benched for the following game against Newcastle, but Ten Hag insisted this was tactical. He also spoke strongly in favour of the England man’s attitude overall, saying:
“Your suggestion is not right. He is very motivated to put things right. I know how much effort he is putting in. He is totally with us.
“He makes a mistake but it doesn’t say he is not fitting in. I see every day with the training what he is doing, I know. So he makes one mistake but also off the pitch what he is doing, how he lives and I am sure he is doing everything right to help the team and to perform and to let us win.”
Asked what he can do to put United’s season back on track and whether he trusts his players, Ten Hag commented:
“I have to take responsibility. And yes, it is a shared responsibility. Yeah, I trust the players. Again, I have seen many moments in the months and years I have been here and also lately that they fight. There is the spirit and for instance, the return against Brentford.
“At the end of the day it is about 11 against 11 and it is about refereeing. You have to face the opposition and you have to prepare the team and you do that on the training pitch. You do that during the week here at Carrington and prepare the team as good as possible as a team and individuals.
In terms of what he thinks is going wrong, he added:
“When you don’t have a consistent back four, the routines are not there. Especially the way I want to play, where everyone is attacking, everyone is defending, the routines are very important.
“And when that is not the case, sometimes the midfield is exposed. It is not the fault of the midfield and I can’t blame the back four because the routines are not there.”
The manager was also asked to explain why he has made so many changes at half time this season. This has been the case in five out of the last six matches.
“You want to let the team play better. We have a squad and when I think the team needs a change to win the game then you make the change. I think some were very good and changed the game in our favour and yeah, because we have that squad so we have to use that squad.”
Finally, Ten Hag was asked if the recent run of poor results and crises have had any impact on him personally.
“Always when the team is not playing well, you think about how to get it right. But for the rest, I am not thinking about things away from the team. I need my relaxation to get the energy. But for now, it is 24/7. You think about how do I get this right,” he answered.
United play Fulham at 12.30pm tomorrow in London.