Marcus Rashford is not the first player to have fallen short of disciplinarian Erik ten Hag’s standards at Manchester United.
The 26-year-old was this week subject of “internal disciplinary” proceedings after he reportedly went out in Belfast last Thursday night and failed to train the following day due to illness.
Ten Hag is sure to be asked about Rashford in his press conference on Wednesday, having already been among the players to irk the United boss since he arrived in the summer of 2022.
The highest profile issue came with United fan favourite Ronaldo. The veteran was denied the move he wished for during Ten Hag’s first few months at the helm and, having missed the club’s pre-season tour due to a family matter, left before the end of his first friendly against Rayo Vallecano. The Dutchman continued to largely speak positively about Ronaldo in public but the mood soured in October 2022 when the frontman headed down the tunnel having refused to come on as a substitute in a win over Tottenham, leading to him being banished from the squad for the next match. The following month Ronaldo claimed to have been “betrayed” by United in an explosive, wide-ranging interview that led to his contact being terminated by mutual consent.
The teenager did not get anywhere near angering Ten Hag like his idol Ronaldo did, but he was one of the first to get a taste of his improved levels of discipline around United under the Dutchman. Fresh from starring in United’s FA Youth Cup triumph, Garnacho was dropped during the summer tour of Thailand and Australia after turning up late for meetings. The Argentina international has clearly learned his lesson, going on to become one of the star performers for United despite still only being 19.
Sancho struggled for consistency after his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund in 2021, but his first season under Ten Hag started brightly enough. The winger then did not feature from October 22 until February 1 – a period that included an individual winter fitness programme in the Netherlands – but returned to help United win the Carabao Cup. However, things went dramatically awry in September 2023, when Sancho claimed on social media that he had been made a “scapegoat” after the Dutchman said he omitted him from a matchday squad due to his training levels. Sancho was banished from the first-team and this month rejoined Dortmund on loan.
Rashford was dropped to the bench at Wolves last season for timekeeping, but that was quickly put to bed by all parties after he came on to score the winner. More problematic has been some of his off-field decision-making this season. Rashford went to a nightclub party after October’s embarrassing 3-0 home derby defeat to Manchester City – something Ten Hag called “unacceptable”. Now stories have emerged that he went out in Belfast on Thursday night, before reporting ill the following day and missing training. Rashford missed Sunday’s FA Cup win at Newport and a club statement on Tuesday read: “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions. This has been dealt with as an internal disciplinary matter, which is now closed.”