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Marcus Rashford says Man United ‘will be back’ as England forward tells critics to show ‘humanity’

Marcus Rashford has told critics who question his commitment to show “more humanity” and said Manchester United’s underperforming current squad will take the club “back where we belong”.

England forward Rashford’s attitude has been questioned in some quarters during a season in which the United academy product has struggled to recapture his form of 2022/23, when he top-scored with 30 goals in 56 appearances in all competitions for Erik ten Hag’s side.

A return of five goals in 32 games so far in 2023/24 has been one of numerous underwhelming aspects of an uneven campaign for huge-spending United, who exited Europe at the first opportunity by finishing bottom of their group and have struggled to credibly compete for a place in the top five in the Premier League.

Rashford, who is said to earn £325,000 a week, was disciplined in January after reportedly being seen in a Belfast nightclub before calling in sick.

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The 26-year-old was also dropped by Ten Hag in November for hosting a birthday party following a defeat to Manchester City.

“I can take any criticism,” Rashford told The Players’ Tribune in a wide-ranging personal piece revisiting the hurdles he had to overcome as a youngster to realise his dream of playing for United.

“I can take any headline. From podcasts, social media and the papers, I can take it. But if you start questioning my commitment to this club and my love for football and bringing my family into it, then I’d simply ask you to have a bit more humanity.

“I’ve made mistakes that a lot of lads in their 20s make and I’ve tried to learn from them. But I’ve also made sacrifices that nobody sees.

“The thing I want you to understand is that money is not what keeps you playing through the hard times. It’s the love of the game, plain and simple.”

Rashford: World ‘not seen best’ of United

Uefa Euro 2020 finalist Rashford has received a mixed press during his career. “It can’t just be about me as a 26-year-old lad on a night out, or a lad getting a parking ticket,” he said, addressing some of the reporting on him.

“It’s got to be about how much my car costs, guessing my weekly salary, my jewellery or even my tattoos.

“It’s got to be about my body language, and questioning my morals, and speculating about my family and my football future. There’s a tone to it that you don’t get with all footballers. Let’s just leave it at that.”

Twenty-time champions United have not won the top-flight title since the 2012/13 season and remain well short of the achievements expected by fans and new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is aiming to transform the club’s fortunes on the pitch after taking over its football operations earlier this month.

A last-gasp home defeat to Fulham on Saturday was United’s first loss of 2024 and has left them three points behind Tottenham, who have a game more to play and occupy the fifth spot which is likely to guarantee Uefa Champions League qualification in 2024/25.

“I promise you, the world has not seen the best of this United squad and these players,” said Rashford in a column released after United beat Nottingham Forest to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

“We want to be back playing in the Champions League… we will be back where we belong. We just have to keep working, and that starts with me.”

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