Marcus Rashford says Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is “a joy to work with” as the rejuvenated striker is gradually returning to his best form.
The 2021-22 season was the most difficult campaign in the 24-year-old’s career so far. Last year, unsuccessful penalties in the final defeat against Italy in Euro 2020 were aggravated by injuries, poor form and criticism.
Rashford scored just five goals in 32 appearances in a poor club season, both individually and collectively, but things are going well for United at the Ten Hag summer meeting.
The giants of Old Trafford are still underway, but the fingerprints of the meticulous Dutchman are already visible ahead of the season leading to better performances and community.
“It’s really fun working with a manager,” Rashford told PA news agency.
Is it hard work? Yes, but I think we like it and we play better football.
“I feel that when we don’t concede goals, we have a good chance of winning games because we create them ourselves.
“We just have to finish them off, be a little more clinical in front of the goal.”
Rashford is United’s top scorer in all competitions, but he knows he should score more than six goals – a figure that is one more than last season.
He says he was able to recover mentally and physically from this highly disappointing campaign during a rare summer off, as he was again left out of England in June’s League of Nations games.
However, Rashford’s improvement in form in recent months has caught the attention of Gareth Southgate, giving him the chance to be promoted to the World Cup squad after an injury that has shattered all hopes of being called up in September.
“I feel like I’m going to get there,” said the England international of his form. “But yes, I’m so much happier, I’m so much happier.”
Rashford will be looking to continue this progress when West Ham visits Old Trafford on Sunday, marking the 85th anniversary of United’s launch of an uninterrupted streak of academics in every line-up.
“I’m just looking forward to the games,” said the raised striker before 4.163. United’s next academy game.
“You know, we have a lot of games in a short time, but that’s why we have such a good squad.
“Everyone is ready, everyone is ready for the challenge, ready to fight. For me, the Chelsea game epitomized that.
“We gave up late and still had the courage and determination to score again in the late hours.
“We were disappointed with the draw, but when you look at the bigger picture, it’s a great character. We know we have it, but showing it is another matter. “
This character was evident in his absence at the end of last season under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, but the impressive team spirit was nurtured under his permanent successor, Ten Hag.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything, but it’s definitely something you need to build,” said Rashford.
“There were some new contracts in the summer and we just managed to get things going and build team spirit as soon as we did.
“I feel that the players have integrated well and we are learning more and more about each other.
“But yes definitely, the team spirit is very high and we want to continue this.
“Good performances help, but even in bad times we’ll stick together.”
Recent results have improved sentiment at Old Trafford, where 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho made his debut in Thursday’s 3-0 Europa League match against Sheriff Tiraspol.
“I thought Garno was brilliant,” added Rashford. “He expressed himself on the pitch, which we always encourage.
“He just walked in and showed no fear. He caught up with his man, beat him, stuck crosses, pressed him well.
“The only thing missing was actually a goal, but I think he can be proud of himself.
“He had a performance he can lean on now and hopefully he’ll have more and more minutes. If he plays like that, I’m sure he will.