Erik ten Hag says his players have to be disciplined on and off the pitch as the Manchester United boss looks to move on from Marcus Rashford’s reported Belfast escapades.
The 26-year-old has been far from his best this season, scoring just four goals, and his decision-making off the field has brought further scrutiny and criticism.
Ten Hag called Rashford’s decision to go to a nightclub party after October’s 3-0 derby defeat to Manchester City “unacceptable” and stories emerged in recent days of more late-night exploits.
Rashford is reported to have gone out in Belfast last Thursday night until 3am, before reporting ill the following day and going on to miss Sunday’s FA Cup win at Newport.
United later said in a statement that “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions” and that the “internal disciplinary matter” is closed – something Ten Hag referred back to ahead of Thursday’s match against Wolves.
“So, he has taken responsibility and for the rest it’s an internal matter – case closed,” the Red Devils boss said, before repeating “case closed” when asked a follow-up.
Rashford is not the first player to be subject of internal disciplinary proceedings, with Jadon Sancho banished from September and returning to Borussia Dortmund on loan earlier this month.
There were also well-documented issues with star name Cristiano Ronaldo during his first season in charge, raising questions about whether disciplinarian Ten Hag had been undermined.
“But, as I said, let’s focus on the game, let’s move on. I think the statement is clear and we have to focus on winning football games.”
Pushed on whether he thought he was imposing the right discipline on his squad to win matches, Ten Hag said: “Nothing to do with that with me.
“But in football you need discipline and that is on the pitch but also off the pitch because also there is a line between. Every player knows this, every professional knows this, what is required.”
Ten Hag sidestepped a question on whether situations like this with Rashford were a distraction, instead underlining how they need to focus on results.
United head to Wolves looking for their first Premier League win since the 3-2 comeback win against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
Ten Hag’s men won on their last trip to Molineux, with Rashford netting the winner off the bench in a 1-0 win, having been dropped for poor timekeeping.
It was one of 30 goals he scored for United in all competitions last season and a return to that form will be key given Anthony Martial’s injury and the club’s inability to make a January addition.
“So, the last two Premier League games, he’s got two goals, two assists,” Ten Hag said.
“You see there is a developing a strong bond between Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford. We want to continue that process.”
The goalkeeper is back at United after Cameroon’s exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, but fellow summer signing Mason Mount remains unavailable with a calf injury.
“Mason Mount it is too soon, yeah,” Ten Hag said. “But Andre Onana will return.”