Marcus Rashford is “unlikely to start” for Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup final as his relationship with manager Erik ten Haag goes from bad to worse.

This is according to Oliver Kay of The Athleticwho claims that “Rashford’s relationship with Ten Hague has become more strained.”

The 26-year-old endured a hugely disappointing season in the last game of gold where he scored 30 goals in all competitions for United and looked like a world beater.

In contrast, this term he scored only eight times, two of which were penalties.

The pressure of expectations after the previous campaign and United’s terrible season have been cited as reasons for his downfall, but Kay points out that “this was the fifth season in nine in which he has failed to reach double figures in the Premier League — and his four double figures include 10 and 11 , as well as two more impressive 17s.”

In other words, in only two of the nine seasons Rashford has shown his best form and true potential.

But as far as the relationship with Ten Hague is concerned, the problems stem more from off-field issues and Rashford’s unwillingness to take on instruction and defensive responsibility, according to Kay.

The rampant drinking in Belfast “left Ten Hague disappointed” and “not forgotten”.

Additionally, “the manager was frustrated by the player’s lack of conviction and consistency on the ball – including areas where he excelled last season – and a perceived lack of defensive discipline without her,” explains Kay.

“Ten Haag places importance on how its attacking players play out of possession, as the first line of defence… Rashford’s absence from the starting line-up in recent weeks reflects concerns about his work off the ball as much as returning goals. ”

With a five-year, £300,000-a-week contract under his belt, it seems unlikely that Rashford will move on whether he or United want to or not. Barring an incredible performance in the FA Cup final, even old suitors like Paris Saint-Germain are unlikely to cough up the £70m or so that United were asking for, or match the exorbitant post-season wages that Rashford commanded.

Kay’s claim that only two in nine seasons have produced a strong performance also suggests that a change of manager this summer will have little bearing on how the Wythenshawe player performs next time around. Whether the relationship with Ten Haag is strained or not, Rashford has been just as inconsistent under other managers as he is under the Dutchman.

Gareth Southgate’s decision yesterday to leave him out of England’s provisional Euro 2024 squad suggests he isn’t sure he can get the best out of players either. Indeed, it suggests he doesn’t think the problem is at Ten Hague or United.

Of course, there could be a manager, coach or sports psychologist who can constantly bring out the best in Marcus Rashford. But in the end, it seems that the only person who can find that key will be the player himself.

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