Rashford: There's only one way out of this run

Saturday 23 September 2023 12:00

Marcus Rashford has been speaking at length about Manchester United's difficult start to the 2023/24 season, ahead of the team's sixth Premier League fixture - away to Burnley tonight.

The Reds have lost three of the preceding five - against Tottenham and Arsenal in North London, and at home to Brighton last weekend - while Wednesday's 4-3 reverse to Bayern Munich in our Champions League opener was the team's third consecutive defeat in all competitions.

With eight seasons in United's senior team already under his belt, Rashford has experienced some rough spells in the past and is therefore well placed to assess how the current players can turn the recent form around.

In an interview with Premier League Productions you can watch and read below, our no.10 points to an example from 12 months ago when Erik ten Hag's men needed the kickstart of a hard-fought win over Liverpool to put early-season slip-ups to Brighton (again) and Bournemouth behind them. From there, the Reds rarely looked back en route to finishing in the top four and winning the club's first silverware since 2017, the Carabao Cup.

Marcus's words below make for an intriguing read as we look forward to chasing what could be a similarly galvanising win at Turf Moor tonight...
Must-watch | Rashford's rallying cry Video

Must-watch | Rashford's rallying cry

Now in his ninth season, Marcus Rashford's vast experience convinces him we'll react positively to this tough period...

Marcus, first of all, an open question to start with. What's the start to this season been like?
"I think it's definitely not been the start that we would have hoped for in pre-season. I think that's clear for everyone. We know football is a results-based sport and it always has been. So, we need to get the results in and I'm pretty sure that with the squad that we have, with the staff behind us, once we do get that first hard-fought result, we'll kick on. It's not the first time I've been in this situation. We were in this situation this time last year, then we had that game against Liverpool [and from then] I don't think we lost at home [in the Premier League] until the Brighton game just gone. So we know what that [next] win can do for us as a team and then it's up to the players to show consistency and you know, that's the bit that you can say we've lacked. In terms of last year, we were very consistent at home, so inconsistent away from home. But we need to find a good balance."

What do you think has been wrong?
"For me, you have to just look at the simple things first. We're not scoring as many goals and we're conceding more goals. If we try to bring those two lines closer together, and try to be a bit more compact, and help the man out to your left or to your right, then yeah, it might mean less chances for the forwards than we're used to from the games last season. But if we're defensively solid, I believe that we can score against any team in the world."
You touched on it before, but incredibly, it's your ninth season as a first-team footballer at Manchester United, which at the age of 25 is remarkable. But you have been here before. You've been here before when results haven't been right and you've come out the other side of it. How do you lead the group through this now, in your role as a leader as well?
"Yeah, I think the first thing is that I don't care what role you have to play in the squad or what your role is in the management, when Man United are losing games, it's a difficult place to be. And from periods when we've been in this situation before, there's only one way out. Each individual has to look at themselves in a mirror and say that they'll give everything for the badge. You know you've got the ability otherwise you wouldn't be here. So we need to tighten up a few things in our defensive organisation, right from the front all the way to the back and just play the game. Each game requires slightly different things and at the minute I feel at times we're expecting the type of game to be this type of way. And when it's not, we're struggling in adjustment. And that's why I feel like teams when they score one, they end up scoring two straight after and we're still taking too long to adjust to what the game needs. But like I said, one good result, one good performance, can turn it around at this club. And I'm doing everything I can to try and make sure that everyone's not too down. Like I said, I know it's a difficult position and I'm not as happy as I want to be, but there's only one way to get that happiness back and it's to go out and get results."
It sounds like, in a way, you expect the reaction because like we've said, you've been through this sort of period before. But with the reaction this week to the Bayern Munich result, and the widespread criticism and scrutiny there has been, what's that actually like, to be in the middle of all of that?
"I don't really know. I don't read it because... listen, the people that are writing or speaking about it, they can't help me. It's the people in this building that can help me and help the team. So I've not actually heard any of it. I know it's coming. Don't get me wrong. I know when we lose one game, it's coming. So, you know that losing three games is definitely going to bring scrutiny. But, you know, for me and for the rest of the players, it's about standing up to it. We're not here to shy away from responsibilities. We're here to show ourselves and show what we can give to help the team. And like I said, different games require different things. So you might have to do a different type of performance in some games and you might not be happy about it, but you put the team first. And that's the position that we're in now and that's where we need to get out of. So we're going to do everything that's asked of us and try to do everything we can to win the next game."

The manager's been talking about the signs of a relationship building between yourself and another one of the new players, Rasmus Hojlund. How do you see that relationship growing between you two?
"I'm honestly super excited about it. At times last year when we were going on counter-attacks and stuff, when you looked up, you just saw shirts of the other bodies! And usually only the cutback was on to Bruno, who was usually arriving later. Whereas this year, you have to understand the dynamics have changed. So we've spoken to each other, we've done a lot of work off the pitch, probably that the coaching staff don't even know [about] because it's just between me and him. But I just want to understand his game and he wants to understand my game as quickly as possible. So far I think it's been good. We obviously had the unlucky one against Brighton that got disallowed, but then in the following game we get another one where we've combined for a goal. So I'm very happy for him. And I'm sure it's a relationship that will help both players. I'm excited for him, excited for the future. And I'm just excited that we've got so many games coming up because we've got so many opportunities to show who we are and if we hopefully we do get the next win, we've got another game a few days later and we can get another one and we can start to build momentum."

How to follow Burnley v United


Read our comprehensive guide ahead of United's league trip to Burnley on Saturday evening.

Last question... how pivotal is this Burnley game for your season now?
"Whichever the next game is, it doesn't matter if it's Burnley, City, Liverpool, it's the most important game for us and it's as simple as that."

In the circumstances though with the run of games...
"Yeah, definitely. We've played against good opposition. Let's not get things twisted, we've played against good opposition, but we've shown, especially so close like last season - it's a few months ago - we've shown how good we can be and it is frustrating for the players when we're not quite playing at that level. And, we don't need other people to tell us that, we already know that. We're the ones on the pitch and you don't want anything more than to get back to that  standard that you know you can be at. And then when you get there, you want to push on. So for us, it's about finding that again. And the only way to do it is, like I said, sticking together as a team. No matter which 11 is playing, who's on the bench, that's the squad. And we're going to need this squad to win this game. And we take it game by game and get back on track."