Rashford 'hurt every day' by Manchester United's failure to challenge

By Joe Wright 1 July 2019 79
Rashford 'hurt every day' by Manchester United's failure to challenge

Marcus Rashford is determined to get Manchester United challenging for the biggest prizes again after signing a new four-year contract with the club.

The 21-year-old has extended his deal at Old Trafford until 2023, with the option for a further year, in a major boost for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's new era.

Rashford has been directly involved in more goals than any other United player in all competitions since his debut in February 2016, underlining his importance to the side, but his rise to prominence has been something of a rare positive for fans in the years since Alex Ferguson's retirement.

The Red Devils have won the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup since 2013 but failed to mount a realistic Premier League title challenge, and their sixth-place finish last season means they will not be involved in the Champions League in 2019-20.

United finished 32 points behind champions Manchester City last season, and Rashford admits it "hurts every day" to see his club so far behind their greatest rivals.

Speaking to the Times after the announcement of his new deal, which will see him earn somewhere in the region of £200,000 per week, he said: "It is a huge sense of pride and a huge feeling for me to sign the contract.

"Manchester United are one big family. Some clubs don't have that — it's just a football club. That's why Manchester United are more than a football club to me.

"Me being a fan changes the emotional side of it. Say we lose a game: it affects me more than it should because I'm a fan. It hurts every day to see where we are now, [compared] to where we've been in the past. I use that pain as motivation. It makes me more determined to put the club back where they belong.

"There's nothing I want more than to see the club winning the Premier League again, winning the Champions League again. Everybody here deserves much, much more than what we're giving them right now, not only the fans, the club itself. They don't deserve to be where they are now. As players, we're the ones who have the opportunity to try and forget about the past five, six years and put the club back on track."

Rashford, a boyhood United fan, has been part of the club since first signing for the academy at the age of seven.

"I'll never forget when United spotted me," he recalled. "I was six. I was on Fletcher Moss playing fields and there was this mystery man watching. I didn't think too much of it, just carried on playing. I glanced over again and he was speaking to my mum and brother [Dwaine].

"Then they called me over. 'What's going on?' I said. 'How's it going, mate?' the mystery man said. 'You okay?' He then said where he was from. Manchester United. Woah. I never expected someone from United to be there. I yelled. I was buzzing. It put a spring in my step for a lifetime.

"I know I was that young — six — and most people aren't thinking of playing for someone's first team at that age, but when he said he was from Manchester United, straight away nothing was going to get in my way of fulfilling my dream."

Rashford believes the passion of playing for United is being instilled again by former forward Solskjaer, who has brought in youngsters Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the close season so far.

"He just gets it. He understands. He's been a player here," said Rashford. "He knows how we may feel in certain moments because he's been there himself. The fact that he understands us way more than a normal manager is why he's fitted in straight away."

Rashford also admits it would be a dream to become captain in future, with Solskjaer having praised him as a player who "truly understands what it means to play for Manchester United".

"It's a responsibility I'd definitely be keen on doing when the time is right," he said. "Whether I have the armband or not, it's good to be a leader within the team. Different people drag you through different stages of the game. Everybody needs to be a leader.

"Being captain would be the moment that would probably overtake that feeling of seeing the shirt [with my name on] for the first time. If you are leading the team out, that would be a special moment."

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Joe Wright

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