Marcus Rashford has apparently ‘taken responsibility’ for his ill-advised night out in Belfast before calling in sick to Manchester United training.
The £325,000-a-week England international forward was ‘clearly on a mission to get drunk’, according to accounts of his tequila-fuelled evening, and collapsed into bed fully-clothed.
While Rashford’s team-mates have been angered by his behaviour, manager Erik ten Hag seems determined to draw a line under the matter with United playing at Wolves on Thursday.
‘Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions. This has been dealt with as an internal disciplinary matter, which is now closed,’ a United statement read.
The handling of Rashford’s misdemeanour has inevitably drawn comparisons with how United’s legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson would have dealt with the matter.
Legendary Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson took a no-tolerance approach to players who undermined his authority by indulging in boozy nights out
England star Marcus Rashford got into trouble with United after calling in sick and missing training after a night out in Belfast on Thursday last week
Rashford was spotted going into a nightclub late at night, and reportedly asked if there were any clubs that would stay open beyond 3am if he paid them enough money
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On a number of occasions throughout his 27 years in charge at Old Trafford, Ferguson had to deal with players who couldn’t resist a boozy night out.
One difference to now is that Ferguson’s United were, for so long, a title and trophy-winning force, with such nocturnal activities potentially jeopardising their superiority.
Even in Ferguson’s final season, as he prepared to announce his retirement, his standards were sky-high – as two unnamed players in his squad who went on a night out would discover.
Dutch forward Robin van Persie, who was their leading goalscorer in the 2012-13 season in question, recalled Ferguson’s novel method of getting his point across.
He told SoFoot in a 2020 interview: ‘Coach Ferguson, he knew when it was necessary to act, when it was necessary, for example, to put pressure on with the discipline.
‘During my first season, we were 15 points ahead in the league and we hosted Manchester City to win the title [in April 2013]. If we won this match, we would be 18 points ahead, but we lost [2-1].
‘That still left us 12 points ahead, so most managers would not have dramatised the situation.
‘The boss, on the other hand, was absolutely furious. It was really hot.
Ex-United striker Robin van Persie recounted the time Ferguson humiliated two players who went on a night out during a Premier League title run-in
‘Two guys from the team were out after that loss and the day after the match, he pasted photographs of the two players on their night out on the dressing room walls.
‘Ferguson then said in front of the whole team: “Okay guys, if we don’t win the championship, know that it’s because of these two a**holes who chose to go out.”
Van Persie declined to reveal the two miscreants but added: ‘They got trashed by the coach, but it stayed in the locker room.
‘It was incredible, he had pasted up lots of photos, we had the evening of the two players hour-by-hour – 2am, 3am, 4am – as if to underline the extent of their stupidity.
‘He didn’t stop there and he warned us all: “Guys, listen up, if we don’t win the championship, it’s because these two decided to go out and have fun. From now on, if I see a player go out before we’ve lifted the trophy, that player is out.”
‘He was merciless. “I don’t care who you are, how many trophies you’ve won so far. If you go out before the end of the season, you’re out of the team and I’ll transfer you.”
Van Persie referenced the 2012-13 title run-in, when United were beaten 2-1 by rivals Man City
City’s win at Old Trafford kept the title race alive and Ferguson was incensed when two of his players decided to go out afterwards
United did go on to win the title, their 13th under Ferguson, by a comfortable 11-point margin
‘After that speech, we went out to train and they were the two hardest workouts of my life. 12 points ahead and that was his reaction.
‘A manager must feel when to be tough and when to take the pressure off. This time of the season was ideal to make a rant and Sir Alex did not let the opportunity pass.’
Luckily for the two involved, United sealed the title with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa, courtesy of Van Persie’s hat-trick, a couple of weeks later and ultimately finished 11 points clear of City.
With Ferguson retiring at the end of that campaign, he don’t follow through on his threat to sell those who stepped out of line.
Ten Hag’s United can only dream of being in such a position of strength in the table. They are eighth ahead of a full midweek schedule, some 16 points behind leaders Liverpool.