Marcus Rashford must fight for Manchester United place, says Erik ten Hag

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford applauds the fans after their Premier League football match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford applauds the fans after their Premier League football match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP

Published Dec 8, 2023


Erik ten Hag says it is up to Marcus Rashford to force his way back into the Manchester United side after he was dropped for the midweek win against Chelsea.

The England international was left out of the starting line-up for the match at Old Trafford after a string of disappointing performances, with his attitude questioned after last week's 1-0 defeat at Newcastle.

Rashford, 26, scored a career-high 30 times for United last season but has netted just twice in the current campaign.

Without Rashford, United produced arguably their best performance of the season on Wednesday, and the impressive form of Alejandro Garnacho in his favoured position on the left is another challenge for Rashford to overcome.

"Rashford is an incredible, good player," Ten Hag said on Friday. "You can't do it with 11 players, he can't play every game, he's not in this moment in the form he was last year but I am sure he will get there.

"It is up to them (to get back into the side). The team will always line themselves up and the best players who form the best team will play."

With Rashford struggling in front of goal, United's topscorer this season is Scott McTominay, who scored both goals in the 2-1 win against Chelsea to reach six for the season.

It had appeared the Scotland midfielder could be on his way out of Old Trafford during the summer transfer window and it was a similar story for England defender Harry Maguire, who has instead forced his way back into Ten Hag's side and on Friday won the Premier League player of the month award for November.

"I think we have a squad and in the squad there is internal competition," Ten Hag said when asked about the pair. "If you want a successful season you need more than 11 players. Finally, in every season, it will turn and in every season it's what is the best team.

"They are here, they are great players and have played into the team. That's what you expect from every player, there has to be dedication to aim for this."

Despite United's poor season -- losing 10 of their 22 games in all competitions -- they are sixth in the Premier League table, just three points behind champions Manchester City, ahead of Saturday's home game against in-form Bournemouth.

"We know where we are going and we had our setbacks, especially at the start of the season," said Ten Hag.

"Things went against us with injuries, decisions, and sometimes you find yourselves in such a place.

"You see the character of the team, we're in a better place, better form. The performances are increasing, we are performing as a team and as individuals, you have to be sharp in every game.

"This league is very competitive and you see it in results this week. Everyone kills everyone."