Gary Neville says he feels ‘people in the dressing room’ at Manchester United are conspiring and ‘briefing against’ Marcus Rashford behind his back, rather than putting an arm around his shoulder.
Rashford was omitted from United’s 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 lead-up to their 4-2 win.
However, it subsequently emerged that Rashford had been partying in Belfast late into Thursday night – while visiting his close friend Ro-Shaun Williams – and the 26-year-old has been fined £650,000 while being forced to train alone.
Erik ten Hag has since moved to draw a line under the episode, insisting the case was ‘closed’ on Wednesday, and the attacker looks set to be welcomed back into United’s squad for their Premier League clash with Wolves.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast earlier this week, Neville addressed Rashford’s indiscipline and explained how Sir Alex Ferguson would have given the England international a ‘dressing down’ for providing such an unwanted distraction at such a crucial stage of the campaign.
Neville again discussed the issue on this week’s The Overlap and revealed his belief that members of Ten Hag’s dressing room were likely the source of stories suggesting that players were ‘angry’ and had begun to turn on Rashford.
‘Reading the headlines in the newspapers and the stories, it feels to me that there’s a few people briefing against him,’ the former United and England right-back said on The Overlap.
‘There are things in there that his team-mates are sick of him, he’s distant in the dressing room.
There’s things that have come out that mean there are people in the dressing room – or connected to the dressing room.
‘Sometimes you think about support in the dressing room – who is grabbing a hold of him in that dressing room and saying, “Sort your s*** out”.’
Legendary ex-United captain Roy Keane said Rashford had no option but to hold his hands up and admit that he had been an ‘idiot’.
‘The penny has to drop for him,’ Keane said.
‘When we went into the dressing room, guys wouldn’t pat you on the back and saying, “Well done for missing training yesterday”.
‘I came back late one time, I went to Nottingham to watch a reserve match, I’d only just come to Manchester United and came in four or five hours late.
‘You’re talking about Marcus getting that protection – sometimes you are on your own. You’re 26, you’re an experienced player in the dressing room.
‘You must hold your hands up and say, “I have been an idiot”.’
According to Keane, Rashford is ‘in trouble’ if the off-field distractions begin to seriously affect his professionalism and level of performance.
‘He’s a young lad, lots of pressure and he’s local, but it doesn’t look like he’s enjoying his football anymore,’ the former Republic of Ireland midfielder added.
‘It goes hand in hand, what is happening off the pitch and on it.
‘Football looks like it’s a chore to him, and it shouldn’t be. There’s pressure on everybody there, but he’s a big player for Manchester United. He’s shown before that he can produce.
‘The cars, the watches, all that is great, but don’t forget what comes first – your football.
‘Good luck with all that other stuff, but if that is becoming more important than your football, then you’re in trouble.’
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