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PR fluff: Why Rashford's latest 'dear diary' does little to fix Man Utd relationship

COMMENT: We read... and read... then read some more. But it never appeared. It hardly came up. This was no mea culpa from Marcus Rashford. No apology. There was not even a 'why'...Read more on Tribal Football


  • Mar 03 2024
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PR fluff: Why Rashford's latest 'dear diary' does little to fix Man Utd relationship
PR fluff: Why Rashford's latest 'dear diary' does little to fix Man Utd relationship

COMMENT: We read... and read... then read some more. But it never appeared. It hardly came up. This was no mea culpa from Marcus Rashford. No apology. There was not even a 'why'...

To be fair, it is called the Players' Tribune for a reason. It's all taken from the player's point of view. Indeed, from the player himself. Which, it can be argued, condemns Rashford even more.

But first, any Manchester United fan should actually read Rashford's latest entry in full. It's there. It's free. And it must be said, given some headlines and certain reviews, there have been bits and pieces taken out of context. One section, where Rashford talks about his family turning down "life-changing" money, has been portrayed by some parts of the press as the player actually fighting members of his family who want him playing elsewhere for a bigger contract. But when one reads the actual entry, it's Rashford and family agreeing together that he'll join United as a junior player despite a bigger offer from, as it is inferred, Manchester City.

But for this column, Rashford fails - and conspicuously so - to address outright the issue that has him at odds with a major section of the United support: his Belfast bender. There's no apology. No explanation. Not even an offered reason of why he did it. And beyond that, he doesn't acknowledge what his teammates made of it. Nor his manager. Indeed, on the very same day his piece was published, we had a story in the red tops that he and Erik ten Hag are not on speaking terms. Why? Because of the way Rashford tried to mislead Ten Hag about the reasons for failing to appear for that Friday morning training session.

Again, it is called the Players' Tribune for a reason, but this does Rashford no favours at all. Indeed, the way the real issues from his Belfast trip were flatly ignored, it all smacks of pure PR. Pure modern day propaganda. And something unworthy of the seriousness of the entire episode.

The frustration stems from the realisation that all this could've been handled so, so much better. The average United fan isn't seeking some struggle session. They don't want to rake one of their own over the coals. Not apologising isn't a deal breaker. But the supporter does deserve an explanation. He does deserve to know why Rashford did it. He may not understand it. He may not agree with it. But the average supporter would appreciate Rashford acknowledging he was out of order and had let the club down.

Ignoring it simply leaves everything to fester. Deflections about being hard done by for his cars, clothes and pictures on his arms just won't cut it. No United fan is upset with Rashford for the number of cars he owns. None of that has anything to do with getting drunk over two days, failing to front up for training and misleading your manager in the process.

Calling yourself a "26 year-old lad out on the town" again doesn't cut it. Rashford is 27 this year. As the late Gerard Houllier told Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher as players far, far younger than Rashford is today, "Why waste your career in nightclubs now, when you can own them in 10 years' time?"

Fact is, Rashford's career is lurching towards crisis. At United, the headlines are more about what he's doing off the pitch than on it. And this has nothing to do with some media vendetta against him. Rashford is failing on the pitch. The excitement coming out of Old Trafford is now about Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund. Rashford is becoming an afterthought.

And in Hojlund's forced absence. When his team. The club. When everyone connected to United turned to Rashford to fill the Dane's void. He's failed to step up. In less than 12 months. After the success of last season. Rashford has become unreliable. A player you cannot count on. Not on the pitch. And perhaps, given Belfast, nor in the dressing room.

That's the problem, Marcus. We're all watching the lad who scored those two goals at FC Midtjylland. The one who had Zlatan Ibrahimovic give a standing ovation to in a preseason friendly. We're watching all that potential and opportunity being blown for no reason other than simply that 'you can'.

But the problem is, this opportunity isn't always going to be there and that window, that leeway Rashford is now afforded, is fast closing.

Don't apologise. Don't even acknowledge it. Not to the fans. Nor the manager. Nor even your teammates. Just keep being Marcus Rashford, 2024. After all, it's worked out so well this season, hasn't it?

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