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Marcus Rashford: Dele Alli has taught us we shouldn't be quick to judge struggling Manchester United star

Marcus Rashford: Dele Alli has taught us we shouldn't be quick to judge struggling Manchester United star

Gareth Southgate has known Marcus Rashford as long as any top manager, the forward one of the survivors of England's 2018 World Cup squad, but even he is never entirely sure how to handle the under-fire Manchester United man.

"You don't always know with Marcus whether that would be what he wants or not, but that's how it is," England coach Southgate said in November, when asked if Rashford needed an arm around the shoulder following an underwhelming start to the season.

Rashford is something of an enigma; a multifaceted individual who can be difficult to read for those who know him, let alone anyone on the outside looking in.

It is therefore difficult to know what to make of his disciplinary problems at United, which continued last week when he reported ill for training on Friday after spending the previous two nights out drinking in Belfast.

Rashford's reputation among fans is beginning to suffer after this latest disciplinary breach

United have since said Rashford "has taken responsibility for his actions" and he could return against Wolves tonight after being left out for Sunday's FA Cup win over Newport.

It is the third time since the start of last season that Rashford has been dropped for disciplinary breaches and his reputation is beginning to suffer, as patience from United supporters and presumably manager Erik ten Hag wears thin.

Rashford is entitled to occasionally let his hair down, but the timing of his misadventures has been consistently poor, and there is a sense that he is in danger of sliding off the rails.

His behaviour would, at least, be more palatable if he was performing on the pitch but his apparent lack of professionalism is matched by a lack of goals (just four this season).

Dele Alli's emotional revelations last year shocked the sport (Sky Sports)
Dele Alli's emotional revelations last year shocked the sport (Sky Sports)

There is clearly an issue, or issues, with Rashford on or off the field, and his former England team-mate Conor Coady has suggested his behaviour "doesn't seem right", saying this week: "Something is there that we don't know about."

Rashford has been through a lot in his career already — the racial abuse he suffered after missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 Final; the scrutiny of taking on the government over child food poverty; and the everyday pressure of playing for United and England.

Rather than vilify him, as many are now doing, perhaps it is time to offer Rashford support.

If Dele Alli's revelations in July have taught us anything, it is not to be too quick to judge a player struggling on and off the pitch, without knowing the full details.