Man Utd exclusive: Steve Bruce on Ten Hag’s ‘perfect’ handling of Marcus Rashford

9 Feb 2024

Marcus Rashford’s future at Manchester United appeared to be in doubt when he was spotted in a Belfast nightclub and skipped training the following day, yet United boss Erik ten Hag handled the crisis perfectly.
That’s the verdict of former United captain Steve Bruce, who believes Ten Hag executed a perfect plan as he held showdown talks with the player and his agent, got the answers he demanded and then announced to the world’s media that the matter was closed.

Rashford responded by scoring in his first game back for United at Wolves last week, with Ten Hag following a different path in dealing with Rashford’s indiscretions than with the exiled Jadon Sancho after his series of disciplinary issues.
Speaking exclusively to Football365, Bruce suggested the pressure is now on Rashford to snatch the second chance handed to him by Ten Hag in what is left of this season.
“I thought the manager handled the Rashford situation very well,” said Bruce. “He put him back in the team and all of a sudden, the onus was on the player to perform and make amends for what happened. There were no more questions for the manager to answer.
“In the last couple of games, we have seen Marcus coming to the fore and playing better, which has justified how the manager handled it.
“Everyone can lose form and confidence. You have to dust yourself down and get ready to go again.

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“He had a lot of making up to do after he let people down in the way he did, but he has started that process,” he said, speaking on behalf of BoyleSports, who offer the latest Premier League betting.
READ: Man Utd owners want fans ‘to pay to be Marcus Rashford for 90 minutes’ in AR camera push
The Rashford story highlighted the challenges faced by managers in the modern game, with the football landscape changing dramatically since Bruce was a player in the 1980s and 90s and throughout a long management career that included spells in charge at Sunderland, Aston Villa and Newcastle.
“Society has changed from 25 years ago,” added Bruce. “The way young players are brought through the Academy system is very different from when I started as a player and then as a manager.
“The challenge now is how to handle these young players who have shot to fame and are almost like pop stars used to be when I was a kid. They are box office talent and you have to work around that. It makes it a more difficult job, of course it is.

“That said, you still have to have a certain discipline about you, you need rules and the players have to adhere to them and have respect for their teammates and management style.
“Man-management has become a huge part of the job now and that was always the case. It’s just changed in the managers deal with players now.
“The great strength of Sir Alex Ferguson during my time with him at Manchester United was his man-management skills were unbelievably good, as well as everything else he had.
“Despite the obvious challenges, we all want to be part of it and I’m desperate to have another go at management.
“I look at Neil Warnock going into the job at Aberdeen this week and he still has the enthusiasm and the passion for it. That never leaves you.
“To succeed as a manager you need to be talented, you need some luck and you need to have the right players. Get all that right and you have a chance, but it’s not easy. There is pressure you have to deal with, but that is the case with every job.”

Man Utd boss Ten Hag comments on Ratcliffe’s Old Trafford plans as Martinez suffers ‘big setback’

Erik Ten Hag is hopeful that Manchester United’s encouraging run of form will not be derailed by Lisandro Martinez suffering another injury.
The Argentinian defender was forced off in the second half of last weekend’s victory over West Ham and faces two months on the sidelines after suffering ligament damage in his right knee.
It was only Martinez’s fourth game back following a lengthy spell out because of a recurrence of a foot issue, with Man Utd winning three of those matches and drawing one.
“It is a setback, of course. Licha was returning, you see his contribution to the team when he is playing, apart from the technical skills also the mentality,” said Ten Hag.
“It is a big setback for Licha, he is very disappointed about it but he is a fighter. He will be back stronger and we think he’ll be back by the end of the season so there are games to play.
“As a squad, we have to replace him and we have very good players in that position who can play there and will play there. As a squad we have to deal with it.”
Raphael Varane replaced Martinez while Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans are also options for Ten Hag for Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa.
“We have options, how to deal with that position,” said the Dutchman. “We have good centre-halves in our squad. The others are all available, Luke (Shaw) can play also there.

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“I’m quite confident we can keep this process going, that others can fulfil that position and also contribute, play in high levels. Those players are experienced and are very good players so it’s up to them now.”
United have been plagued by injury problems this season and Ten Hag revealed Aaron Wan-Bissaka suffered a setback in training on Thursday, while Mason Mount and Tyrell Malacia also remain sidelined.
READ MORE: Man Utd exclusive… Steve Bruce on Ten Hag’s ‘perfect’ handling of Marcus Rashford
Martinez attempted to play on after initially going down, but Ten Hag does not believe that had an effect on the eventual diagnosis.
“I don’t think so, but it was his decision,” said the United boss. “He was comfortable to be back on the pitch but after he tried and then I think stopped in the next attack.
“In some situations it is clear and obvious but there is always a grey area and it’s very difficult to see when you are on the sideline. We have the screens and we see it as well, and our medics are over there and they are communicating with the player, but to assess in one or two minutes is impossible.

Xabi Alonso given ‘brutal warning’ by Liverpool stranger as ‘UEFA issues’ linger

“You need 24 hours minimum and sometimes even longer, so how can you do this in two minutes?”
Ten Hag, meanwhile, welcomed the news that Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly keen to invest heavily in Old Trafford.
“If that is his view then I would say it expresses the ambition of this club, which is good. But it is not my task in this club to deal with stadium questions, with facilities, my job is to manage the team and to build the squad,” said Ten Hag.
Another three points on Sunday would be a major boost to United’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League and the associated financial injection that would provide.
They go into the clash eight points behind Villa but at a slightly shaky moment for Unai Emery’s team, who have won only one of their last five matches.
“I’ve said to the team from the start of January, every game is now a final,” said Ten Hag.
“That was also our approach to West Ham. We were one point behind them but this is a final, we have to take this challenge, we have to see this as a final. That will be every game from now on so we are already in that mood.”
The inside track on Xabi Alonso to Liverpool is so prized that Glen Johnson’s role is elevated and Bastian Schweinsteiger is an expert.
First, a Marcus Rashford exclusive…
Another piece of the puzzle
The dictionary definition of ‘exclusive’ is ‘an item or story published or broadcast by only one source’.
So when Marcus Rashford posts an image on his own Instagram on Tuesday of a jigsaw, it’s hard to argue that The Sun – a full 24 hours later – have an ‘exclusive’ on Marcus Rashford doing a jigsaw.
Though perhaps the ‘exclusive’ is the quote they got from a ‘source’, which they absolutely did not invent to pad out a story that begins and ends with an image of a jigsaw.

“It’s an unusual choice for a top-flight footballer in his 20s, but the last thing he needs is to return to his partying.
“He’s making an effort to stay in and behave himself.
“Let’s hope he sticks with it.”

Definitely sounds like something a ‘source’ would say. Mediawatch is just shocked that the same source did not say that Rashford and the jigsaw ‘just couldn’t keep their hands off each other’.
READ: Man Utd owners want fans ‘to pay to be Marcus Rashford for 90 minutes’ in AR camera push

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Yeah, it was a surprise. But but as well,

Xabi Alonso reacts to Jurgen Klopp exit amid speculation he could take Liverpool job

How could you do that to a teammate?
At F365 we receive at least a dozen e-mails a day from gambling companies who have enlisted ex-professionals to give their opinions on the hot football topics. Some are tosh, some are Paul Parker.One such ex-footballer is Glen Johnson, who has been giving his thoughts on the Liverpool job. We covered the story here – Ex-Liverpool star reveals ‘big names’ will be ‘put off’ joining Liverpool because of post-Klopp ‘guillotine’ – and you might spot that our headline is rather different from the one used by the Mirror despite it being exactly the same story:

Xabi Alonso’s ex-Liverpool teammate sends brutal warning over replacing Jurgen Klopp

Pesky fact: Xabi Alonso and Johnson were never Liverpool teammates; Alonso left in 2009 just as Johnson signed.
You might think that a quick Google would have prevented that little f***-up.
With that in mind, it seems churlish to point out that Johnson’s comments on Alonso are as follows:

“Being an ex-legend of the club and a fan favourite will mean that Xabi’s given time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be successful, but I think the fans will have more patience with him.
“They will give him more leeway than they would with a manager that doesn’t already have an affiliation with the club. So from that side of it, I think it could be a good option.”

That really is a ‘brutal warning’. From a man he has probably never met. Which must really hurt.
Bastian of knowledge

At least Bastian Schweinsteiger has actually played on the same pitch as Xabi Alonso, so his words carry slightly more weight. But not as much weight as SPORTbible would have you believe.Former Man Utd star reveals ‘big’ Xabi Alonso news he ‘knows’ that Liverpool fans need to know

‘Former Man Utd star’ is already funny because frankly he was totally sh*te at Manchester United. But he’s obviously bringing ‘big’ news that he ‘knows’.
Here’s the relevant quote:

“I know Xabi and I believe that it is his big dream to coach Liverpool one day. I certainly think it’s possible that he will move to Liverpool in the summer.”

So he doesn’t ‘know’ anything at all; he ‘believes’ it.
And the news is not ‘big’; the dream is ‘big’.
He literally says the move is ‘possible’ because all he really knows is that he played with Xabi Alonso for one season almost a decade ago and he really loves Liverpool.
The only thing that Liverpool fans ‘need to know’ is to ignore any and all of this nonsense.
I got issues…

And the bad news for Xabi Alonso or whoever replaces Jurgen Klopp is that a club that employs over a dozen scouts as well as various performance analysts are – this is going to blow your mind – not going to sit on their hands until a new coach is appointed.Liverpool decide first signing for next manager after Jurgen Klopp to avoid UEFA issues

Or maybe just because that’s how elite football clubs work.
But no, the Express want you to believe that Liverpool are facing ‘UEFA issues’ and that’s why they have to move for Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo.

Liverpool’s pursuit of Adarabioyo does fall in line with their need for homegrown talent. With the club expected to qualify for the Champions League next season, they boast just four senior homegrown players in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, Joe Gomez and Caoimhin Kelleher. Harvey Elliott and Conor Bradley still count as Under-21 stars.
With their threadbare homegrown player count it is a factor that will be considered heavily in their summer transfer business.

This would be a far more compelling argument if Liverpool did not have to follow exactly the same rules for the Europa League, a competition in which they have serenely progressed and remain the favourites to win.

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