regular-article-logo Wednesday, 04 October 2023

Premier League: Erik Ten Hag slams schedule

Manchester United manager is fully aware that it is time for Marcus Rashford’s teammates to pick up the goalscoring slack

IAN WHITTELL Published 10.04.23, 06:10 AM
 Marcus Rashford.

Marcus Rashford. File photo

The sight of a forlorn Marcus Rashford limping down the Old Trafford tunnel 10 minutes before the end of what should have been a routine Manchester United victory took the gloss off the Saturday afternoon for manager Erik ten Hag.

The Dutchman was reduced to prayer as he awaits reports on Rashford’s fitness, but laid the blame for his 28-goal striker’s fitness concerns at the door of the Premier League.


Forced to play the late Sunday fixture at Newcastle last weekend, and host Brentford in midweek, Ten Hag was furious that he was then handed a lunchtime kick-off against Everton on Saturday.

“It’s true we are in a lot of competitions,” said Ten Hag. “And some things you can’t avoid, but today (Saturday) was avoidable. Why has the Premier League given us the late game on Sunday and the early Saturday game? I think it’s not right.

“Then you run the risk players can’t recover that quickly. We know, all the science research will give you, that players need a certain period to recover.

“Then it accumulates, so you run even more of a risk, so it’s part of the schedule that we now find ourselves in this situation and we can only pray he is not dropping off.”

However, Ten Hag is fully aware that it is time for Rashford’s teammates to pick up the goalscoring slack. Rashford’s 15 league goals for United have accounted, directly, for 15 points in their push for a top-four finish. Without those points, United would have started the day below Fulham and Chelsea in the bottom half of the table.

Indeed, although he was heavily involved in both goals and received an assist for the second, this was the first league victory United have recorded without Rashford on the scoresheet since a win at Fulham in mid-November.

And the prospect of being without the England forward for long is not a welcome one for Ten Hag as he attempts to negotiate a gruelling schedule in the Premier and Europa Leagues and FA Cup.

“We have to wait, how bad or how good it is,” he said. “Obviously he went off with a complaint, now we have to wait, set a diagnosis and we will see.”

Ten Hag consistently argues he has other proven goalscorers in his ranks although, until the introduction of the perennially injured Anthony Martial, this victory did little to back up such a claim.

Scott McTominay, fresh from four goals in his past two internationals for Scotland, opened the scoring with his second league goal in his past 63 appearances before Martial came off the bench to wrap up the points. But, from 29 shots, a return of two goals is far from efficient and Martial, who has been fit to start just six league games, could not choose a better time to remain fit.

“I’m not worried if Martial will score,” said Ten Hag. “Martial, when fit, will contribute.”

The Daily Telegraph in London

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