Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Erik ten Hag issues stark warning as pivotal Man Utd star confesses to Old Trafford exit thoughts

Anthony Elanga, Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay of Man Utd

Erik ten Hag has challenged Marcus Rashford to score even more goals next season after the striker admitted he did consider quitting Manchester United.

Rashford, 25, enjoyed a superb 2022-2023, bagging 30 goals from 56 appearances in all competitions. The England hitman scored 17 Premier League goals to help the Red Devils finish third in the table. They will operate in the Champions League next term and hope to close the gap to Manchester City in the league.

But it was all a far cry from Rashford’s experience the previous campaign. The man with 53 Three Lions caps managed only four top-flight goals.

And he looked a shadow of the player who made such an impact when bursting onto the scene as a teenager.

There was talk at the time that the Manchester-born ace might look for another challenge to reignite his career.

He remained at the Theatre of Dreams but revealed he had thought about quitting ahead of Ten Hag’s arrival.

“Before the manager came maybe a little bit. But it’s football, it happens,” he told reporters, via The Mail.

“Everything is going to happen for a reason and he came to the club at the right time for me. The timing worked out.

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“Now the conversation is a little bit different because I think it’s clear, the manager is very ambitious and he has been since the minute he stepped in. I didn’t really have doubt in my mind about that.”

Ten Hag not content with Rashford heroics

United’s standards had slipped considerably towards the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time in charge.

There was a malaise at the club which the Dutchman has firmly dealt with.

He has not been afraid to make tough decisions and was roundly praised for the way he got rid of Cristiano Ronaldo last year.

And the former Ajax boss has made it clear that Rashford, who recently penned a new deal, will not be allowed to rest on his laurels next term.

“For Rashy we expect him to raise the bar,” he said. “He had a good season last year but that doesn’t give guarantees for another great season.

“Everything has to be right, his base, his foundation, attitude, lifestyle etc. But also to work on his game, work on the way of play for himself and [within] the team.

“We are looking for goals and Rashy, in this moment, proved he has a very good goalscoring record.

“But for himself he wants to make the next step and score more goals than last season.”

Ten Hag expects tough top four tussle

Manchester United have already improved their squad with the arrival of Mason Mount from Chelsea.

Andre Onana will replace the departed David de Gea in goal while Rasmus Hojlund appears on the cusp of joining.

The north-west giants know they must add quality to keep up with their rivals in the coming seasons.

And Ten Hag expects a battle royal to qualify for the Champions League places in 2023-24.

“It’s not between two or three clubs, it’s between seven, eight or nine who can all finish in the top four,” he added.

“It’s going to be a really exciting league I’m sure.”

READ MORE: Rasmus Hojlund: Why Manchester United want the striker and everything you need to know about him