Erik ten Hag denies there is a discipline problem at Manchester United

Dutch coach labels Marcus Rashford's behaviour 'unacceptable' following trip to Belfast nightclub

Erik ten Hag, right, with Marcus Rashford, who was this week punished by the club for poor discipline. Getty Images
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Erik ten Hag insists there is no problem with professional standards at Manchester United – despite recent revelations about Marcus Rashford's private life.

Rashford, who has been well below his best this season, scoring just four goals, was pictured at a Belfast nightclub last Thursday night and reportedly called in sick the following morning. He was then banished from United's 4-2 FA Cup win at Newport County on Sunday.

Ten Hag described the striker's night out as "unacceptable" while subsequent stories have since emerged detailing more late-night escapades.

United said in a statement that, “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions” and that the “internal disciplinary matter” is closed – something Ten Hag referred back to ahead of Thursday’s match at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“So, he has taken responsibility and for the rest it’s an internal matter – case closed,” the United manager said, before repeating “case closed” when asked again.

Rashford is not the first player to be the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings during Ten Hag's time as manager of the club, with Jadon Sancho excluded from the first-team picture last September before being sent on loan to former club Borussia Dortmund earlier this month.

There were also well-documented issues with Cristiano Ronaldo during Ten Hag's first season in charge, raising doubts about whether the manager's often hardline approach had been undermined.

“It’s nothing to do with that,” the United boss said, when asked if his players respect him. “But, as I said, let’s focus on the game, let’s move on. I think the statement is clear and we have to focus on winning football games.”

Pushed as to whether he thought he was imposing the right discipline on his squad, Ten Hag said: “In football you need discipline and that is on the pitch but also off the pitch because also there is a line between. Every player knows this, every professional knows this, what is required.”

United head to Wolves looking for their first Premier League win since the 3-2 comeback against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

Ten Hag’s men won on their last trip to Molineux, with Rashford netting the winner off the bench, having been dropped for the game because of poor timekeeping.

It was one of 30 goals he scored for United in all competitions last season before his sudden drop off in 2023/24.

But Ten Hag said: “So, the last two Premier League games, he’s got two goals, two assists.

“You see there is a developing a strong bond between Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford. We want to continue that process.”

Rashford has been training and returns to the squad at Molineux, where Andre Onana looks set to return to the starting line-up.

The goalkeeper is back at United after Cameroon’s exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, but fellow summer signing Mason Mount remains unavailable with a calf injury.

“Mason Mount it is too soon, yeah,” Ten Hag said. “But Andre Onana will return.”

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Updated: January 31, 2024, 2:09 PM