Marcus Rashford on last season's struggles, Eric ten Hag and getting fans' smiling again

Manchester United attacker speaks exclusively to 'The National' about his hopes for the new campaign after enjoying a rare full pre-season

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Marcus Rashford is one of many Manchester United players who needs a positive season.

The forward’s stock has fallen among United fans after a poor season when he scored only five goals in an injury-hit period under three managers where his team finished sixth.

He also lost his place in the England national team. The Mancunian striker had managed 21, 22 and 13, 13, 11 and eight goals in his previous seasons.

Rashford is only 24, but he’s entering his eighth term as a United first teamer. He’s being judged by his new manager, but he’s capable of fitting into the high pressing game demanded by Ten Hag.

The National caught up with him briefly after he’d played in the final game of United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.

How should United fans feel about this season after what they’ve seen on the tour?

We’ve tried to play our best football and I think the majority of the time that showed, but the real challenge is to do it when the season begins.

We’ve done a lot of work pre-season and other than not winning against Villa, it has been a positive trip without any injuries.

I’m looking forward to the season and I feel like we’re ready to go from the first game. I want the same support from the fans. It’s up to us put a smile on their faces again after last season.

Marcus Rashford celebrates with Diogo Dalot after scoring in Manchester United's pre-season friendly win against Crystal Palace at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Getty

Last season?

We know it didn’t go well. When you are losing games and you’re not picking points, it’s difficult to enjoy yourself on the pitch.

I’m my own harshest critic and I know when I’m not playing my best football and I know when I need to improve. I’ve reflected on that.

So how are you feeling now?

I’m in a good place mentally and physically. I feel really positive and I know I’m not the only one there. There’s a joined up feeling among players.

We want the season to start to show what we can do. Hopefully we can start the season off a lot better. We’re better players than what we showed last year.

What impression has Erik ten Hag made on you?

A positive one. He’s a positive manager who likes to play attacking football. Even when we’re defending he wants us to be on the front foot, to squeeze the pitch and press high up.

The players enjoy this because when we win the ball back we’re in a much better position to try to score. Had the pre-season been hard work? Yes, definitely. Do we enjoy it? Definitely.

Marcus Rashford during Manchester United's friendly draw against Aston Villa at the Optus Stadium in Perth. AFP

Ten Hag has spoken well of the connection between the front players pre-season. Do you feel that?

I do and I expected it to be good, but I feel like we can do better, do more. Against Villa, we conceded a goal on a counter attack. There’s work to do there.

He wants the forward players to link up and it has been a good start under the new manager and we have to look to build on that. We have to keep improving.

Why should fans think this season will be any different from you than last season, for example?

This is only the second time since I became a professional footballer that I have had a full pre-season. I mean that in terms of rest and getting the work in. I feel really good in myself.

I had time to rest, to recover mentally and physically. It didn’t feel like last season just rolled into this one. I want to continue to feel how I feel now.

Updated: July 25, 2022, 3:03 PM