CHRIS WHEELER: Marcus Rashford is desperate to make a late World Cup surge and ignite revival under Erik ten Hag at Man United… as
- Marcus Rashford is hoping to revive his Man United career ahead of World Cup
- The forward was left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for Nations League games
- United No. 10 is optimistic new boss Erik ten Hag can help him recover form
- Rashford will face stiff competition for places in Southgate’s squad in November
Less than a month after the Premier League finished, Marcus Rashford will land in the U.S. this week for a 10-day individual pre-season training camp.
There is no time to lose. Rashford is desperate to revive his Manchester United career under new manager Erik ten Hag and the clock is ticking ahead of the World Cup in November.
He was once one of England’s brightest prospects, but Rashford’s hopes of being on the plane to Qatar hang in the balance. He is in a race against time to get back in the squad, even one so lacking in attack that their games against Hungary, Germany and Italy this month have seen just one goal scored.
Marcus Rashford is hopeful he can turn his Man United career around ahead of World Cup
The 24-year-old will try to push for a spot on England’s plane to the World Cup in November
Gareth Southgate’s admission over the weekend that the 24-year-old has ‘a lot to do’ to regain his place came as no surprise to Rashford after face-to-face talks with the England manager last month.
He never expected to be part of the latest squad in the wake of the most difficult season of his career and the form of players such as Jack Grealish, Tammy Abraham and Jarrod Bowen.
Rashford is not in denial, according to those close to him. He respected Southgate’s decision and the effort he made to explain it. He also knows what he has to do to play at the World Cup.
Following Tuesday’s game against Hungary at Molineux, England have one more get-together in September before Southgate names his squad, so there is still a narrow window of opportunity. Hence Rashford’s determination to hit the ground running and convince Southgate to think again.
A holiday with his fiancée Lucia has been combined with gym workouts, beach sprints and strength and conditioning sessions with a personal trainer. Ball work will be stepped up in America so Rashford is ahead of the game when he has his first session under the fastidious Ten Hag at the end of the month.
The United forward was left out of Gareth Southgate’s recent Nations League squad
Rashford knows he paid for not having a pre-season last summer after opting for surgery on a muscle tear in his left shoulder against United’s wishes.
He did not kick a ball for three months after missing a penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final shootout defeat by Italy at Wembley before going back into action for a United team in freefall. That was also Rashford’s last kick in an England shirt.
The psychological impact of that miss cannot be overstated either. Rashford stayed in bed for days afterwards and saw a sports psychologist for the first time in his career.
Last season he scored just five goals in 32 games for United. Rashford’s versatility counted against him as he was shunted around different positions under caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick, who even played him at wing-back on one occasion.
Rashford last played in April against Chelsea before he missed the final three games with a bout of bronchitis. It has led to questions over his future at Old Trafford with his £200,000-a-week contract set to run out next summer, although United have the option to extend it by a further 12 months.
Rashford will be hoping incoming United boss can help turn around his fortunes at Old Trafford
A number of European clubs are monitoring the situation but Rashford is committed to staying at his boyhood club. United, too, have little appetite to lose another academy graduate following the departures of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.
Ten Hag’s work with younger players was one reason for his appointment. United hope the Dutchman will have a restorative effect on Rashford.
Steve McClaren’s return to the club as assistant manager may be a concern in light of his brutal assessment of Rashford’s body language during an FA Cup tie against Aston Villa in January.
‘I hate that attitude,’ said McClaren. ‘Rashford has probably always had this problem in terms of questioning his attitude. He doesn’t fight through bad moments. He doesn’t stay in the game.’
McClaren’s opinion isn’t the only one Rashford has to change over the course of the next few months. But he knows what he has to do, and the hard work has already begun.
Steve McClaren (left) was critical of Rashford’s body language during a game in January
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