Last season, the Manchester United attacker struggled under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
Manchester United crafted and followed the right script when getting down to business for the first time under Erik ten Hag, despite the absence of headlining act Cristiano Ronaldo from the touring party.
Given his enormous stature, Ronaldo was always going to take center stage, even when he chose not to fly to Bangkok with his teammates. But, for at least 90 minutes against Liverpool, the controversy was forgotten, as United showed what life after Ronaldo (part two) might look like.
Jadon Sancho, Fred, Anthony Martial, and Facundo Pellistri scored against Jurgen Klopp’s team in Thailand, and it’s difficult to say who of those four players needed the boost the most. A handful more, notably Marcus Rashford, would have snapped your hand off in order to find the net.
While the discarded England player did not stick out in that opener, there are early indications that he will overcome a challenge outlined for him by new United assistant coach Steve McClaren. Rashford hinted at this during an appearance in front of the world’s media after landing in Melbourne.
“Right now, I’m in a good place,” Rashford stated. “Having such a long break over the summer was a bit odd for me; I think I had just under four weeks, so I had a big break physically and mentally.”
Rashford has been able to reset the clock for Ten Hag, which, according to McClaren’s views prior to his return to Old Trafford, was long overdue. “Body language is extremely essential,” McClaren said in January. “Rashford has probably had this [worry] throughout his career in terms of questioning his attitude.”
“He is quickly discouraged and does not persevere in the face of adversity.” Someone needs to provide him the tools he needs to get out of his awful situations because he doesn’t know how and stays in them.”
Rashford failed to score against Liverpool, and it was Sancho and Martial who took advantage to get their season tally up and running. However, based on social media videos from pre-season training and statements he made during the press conference, McClaren appears to have struck a chord with the Wythenshawe-born academy graduate.
Rashford now appears at ease with himself and his game, which will be excellent news to Ten Hag, supporters, and the England team. Similar to Ronaldo, his future was discussed earlier this summer, but Rashford’s next goal is much clearer.
The noticeable difference in his body language reflects the general improved mood in the United camp. This is due in part to Ten Hag and McClaren, although a morale-boosting summer win against Liverpool can’t hurt.
Rashford must overcome further obstacles in order to reclaim his place in the England group. In a World Cup year, he has no greater motivation, and a shift in his thinking at United has provided a solid platform for him to do so — all thanks to the United coaches, including McClaren.
Following his comments about Rashford, his reappearance at Carrington may have generated some stress. Ultimately, it appears that some hard realities were all that was required to resurrect Rashford, who deserves respect for handling the news in the most professional manner possible.