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Marcus Rashford: Why there are two sides behind the Manchester United forward’s difficulties



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The early hours of Friday morning saw a tweet go out on Marcus Rashford’s public Twitter/X profile, backing up the claim of a fan complaining about the abuse he receives.

Rashford’s profile picture on the platform has been blacked out, commonly associated with going through mental struggles, and whether it was him or one of his team who made the tweet, some of the responses have very much proven the point at hand.

This is not the first time this season that Marcus Rashford has gone public to talk about his struggles. Just under two months ago, the United no.10 released an interview with The Players’ Tribune to address some of the claims made against him and open up a little to fans.

In the very first paragraph of this interview, Rashford labels himself an introvert, and I feel that this point is particularly relevant when fans accuse him of not caring. Rashford’s body language is certainly frustrating at times, fans would understandably like to see him dig deeper.

But is this necessarily not caring? Or is it an expression of frustration, an introvert’s response to hurt? I’m not a psychotherapist, I can’t say for sure what goes on in Rashford’s head or give an in-depth breakdown of what his body language means.

But what I feel I can say with relative certainty is that Marcus Rashford is crying out for help, and too many people are ignoring the call.

As I mentioned before, this is the second big statement Rashford, and his camp have made in the space of as many months on some of the treatment he is getting and some of the things said about him.

Criticism is more than fair, Rashford himself would be the first to tell you his season has been a disappointment, especially given the heights hit by the Englishman last season – where he had the best year of his career to date. But with Rashford, it always seems to go beyond that with some fans.

Whilst, understandably, more is expected of Rashford due to his ability as a footballer and the fact he has come through the academy and grown up with Manchester United, it feels at times that far too much burden is placed upon his shoulders. When United aren’t performing, he’s always the first target. It’s always Rashford who is expected to drag United out of the mud because they know he’s done it before. In this, it’s forgotten that football is a team sport.

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Part of Rashford’s drop in form has been down to a physical decline, which can be directly linked back to him running himself into the ground for United by playing through serious injuries just a few years ago. All those times he stepped up at the expense of his own health are catching up to him, and people still expect more. A question to those people: if Marcus Rashford didn’t care, would he have played through such struggle for this club? I think the answer is clear.

Rashford hasn’t always helped himself. Whilst the body language on the pitch might not be ill-intentioned, it is understandable why fans don’t respond well to it in comparison to players like Bruno Fernandes, and whilst I would urge fans to be more empathetic and understand that different personalities respond to hardship in various ways, one can understand why they become frustrated by Rashford’s own frustration and how it can be channelled in the moment. Off-field incidents, such as being seen clubbing at awkward times and social media posts like the one this morning, can rub fans up the wrong way, too.

But what has to be understood by the fans is that it isn’t always down to a lack of care. Professional footballers sacrifice so much more than we imagine just to get to where they are, and Rashford’s aforementioned interview with TPT offers some insight into this. We can’t know for sure, but when it comes to your own, you should want to give them that benefit of the doubt, especially in the case of a player like Rashford.

When people glorify what Harry Maguire has done in battling through ridiculous levels of abuse to turn his career around and use this as a stick to beat Rashford with, it makes little sense to me. What happened to Maguire was horrible and shouldn’t be justified by anyone, even if his response deserves celebration. Abuse of both players has largely been fuelled by a certain section of the fanbase who have a large reach and influence in the online space.

Rashford needs to do better on the pitch once he returns from his most recent injury and should make some effort to physically show fans how much he cares and reaffirm his commitment to the club. Social media statements do not endear to fans, they want to see things happening on the pitch.

But fans need to give Rashford some room to breathe, too. Criticism is fine, but don’t let it go beyond that. It isn’t helpful to anyone, and we’re seeing with our own eyes how it is impacting Rashford in real time.