Gary Neville has applauded Erik ten Hag for putting the commotion over Marcus Rashford’s recent off-field behaviour to bed and swerving what he believes could have turned into a ‘Jadon Sancho situation’ at Manchester United.
Rashford was left out of United’s matchday squad for the side’s FA Cup trip to Newport last weekend, with an illness said to have ruled the forward out of training in the ahead of their 4-2 win.
It subsequently emerged that Rashford had been partying in Belfast, Northern Ireland late into Thursday night and the 26-year-old was slapped with a hefty £650,000 fine while being forced to train alone.
Ten Hag was keen to a draw a line under what had become an unwanted distraction in the lead-up to United’s return to Premier League action against Wolves and Rashford was recalled to the visitors’ XI, in support of Rasmus Hojlund, at Molineux.
A fired-up Rashford will have been desperate to hit back at his critics and the England forward did just that inside only five minutes, opening the scoring with a exquisite finish from the edge of the box to beat Jose Sa.
Teenager Kobbie Mainoo was United’s hero on the night with a sensational last-gasp winner to secure a vital 4-3 victory for Ten Hag’s men, a result which saw them move up to seventh in the table.
After a rollercoaster few days for Rashford, Neville told Sky Sports he was pleased that both player and manager had been able to put their disagreement aside for the greater good of the team.
‘I had two fears after the story broke at the weekend,’ the ex-United and England right-back said.
‘One fear was that it would drag on for months and months and that we would have a Jadon Sancho situation, there would be a standoff, and secondly: is Marcus Rashford okay, what’s going on? This is a couple of times it’s happened now recently.
‘The first one we can put to bed because there is no doubt… scoring a goal and playing in the game, Erik ten Hag and Marcus Rashford have put it to bed.
‘The second one, which is around Marcus Rashford himself, he has to make sure that he’s faultless until the end of the season, that feeling of celebrating with his colleagues and the fans over on that side at Wolves last night can enable him to refocus and reset.’
Neville believes United’s match-winner Mainoo has ‘the world at his feet’, though hopes the 18-year-old is given the time and space he requires to fulfil his true potential.
‘The goal was sensational for Mainoo. We’ve obviously seen different types of goals, but for him to keep such composure, slot it through the lad’s legs, it’s just absolutely wonderful and the finish,’ Neville addded.
‘He’s a fantastic player. To come into Manchester United’s team at any time is really difficult and he’s come in at one of the most difficult times in the club’s recent history and he’s just stood out as someone whose temperament and composure is off the scale.
‘It looks like he’s got the world at his feet for the next 10 years.
‘But there’s been an example in the last week or two whereby you can get a bit carried away, obviously Marcus Rashford had the same and scored last night which is obviously a good thing for him and the club that that’s been put behind them.
‘He’s got 15 years left, Kobbie Mainoo, and he’s got to keep his feet on the ground, but it looks like he’s got all the attributes that you would need to be a top player.’
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