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Two Nights in Belfast.....much ado about nothing?

Manchester United Training Session Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

We’ve all called in ‘sick’ at work.

That morning phone call when staying in bed was the most desirable option and you could get away with it.

Work doesn’t seem too busy today? Let me give Gary (or whatever your boss was called) a ring in a raspy voice.

I’m sure there have been a number of people reading this who have called in sick after having too much of a good time at a party the night before.

Whether this was what occurred with Marcus Rashford or whether he was actually ill is up for debate.

All we know according to various sources is that United players had a day off on Thursday and Marcus Rashford was in Belfast. During his trip to Northern Ireland, the Englishman was out in bars on Wednesday night and went to a nightclub on Thursday night, with training on the following Friday morning.

On the morning of Friday at some point, he phoned in sick unable to attend training with a game against Newport on the horizon on Sunday.

This season has been marred by negativity off the pitch and infuriatingly poor performances on the pitch, this is yet another drama to deal with in the United soap opera.

The thing about being Manchester United manager is, that you have to deal with the ‘Hollywood FC’ aspect of it. Like it or not, with social media, everyone is a detective, everyone possesses a camera, and everyone is interested in grabbing the latest dirt.

You can capture it in an instant and the rest of the world can see it at the push of a button.

I’m sure Ten Hag received the news with a groan, he’s struggling to find answers and show his newest employers he’s the right man to lead the team on the pitch, and now his authority for the seemingly umpteenth time is being questioned as he has to deal with another off-pitch incident.

He has dealt with it in a manner that says ‘Nothing to see here, onto Wolves’. The club has said it is ‘an internal disciplinary matter, which is now closed’.

Frankly, I don’t think Ten Hag can afford to go against another player, he’s running out of games to save United’s season and his job as a manager. He would rather eye-roll, draw a line under the incident, and sweep it under the carpet. Compromise, mainly because he has to.

You do wonder what the reaction would’ve been had it been a different player. A player perhaps who hasn’t shown how good he can be in a United shirt.

Which is why the situation is a tad irritating.

We’ve been here before with Rashford. Last season it was an extra few hours of shut-eye, oversleeping, and arriving late for a team meeting.

Emblematic of last season and this however is the circumstances that preceded Rashford’s behaviour. The striker was dropped before the game, substituted on as United needed a goal and hey presto he was the one to provide it.

In this rancid season, he called in sick for training and wasn’t available before a game with League 2 opposition as United wobbled their way to victory.

When in-form the academy prospect is an elite forward. As his confidence drops though so does his morale, demeanor, and from the outside looking in, his interest.

Maybe his motivation dampens when the season isn’t going well a la Rangnick disaster season, but with the type of player he’s shown he can be at United, you’d want to look to him to show better professionalism, or at least be a little savvy.

With Thursday off, he could’ve quite easily enjoyed Wednesday night and returned the Thursday. If the opposition wasn’t in the fourth division in England, he might’ve and it’s perhaps why the club wants to move on so quickly.

Regardless of whichever way you want to look at the situation, INEOS is coming like the White Walkers and will be taking a look at all things Manchester United.

The next six months are vital for not just the manager but the players too, in terms of what type of club INEOS want United to be and who they want to feature.

Rashford has shown on plenty of occasions he can be the reliable player you need to be that comes with the burden of the United shirt. A move like this doesn’t allude to that.

Of course, he could use this as motivation. Another winner at Molineux would be welcome, lord knows United needs a shot in the arm.

Similarly, they need a player like Rashford to help salvage whatever is left of the season. Or at least try his utmost best to do all he can.

This is the same player that ran Barcelona ragged at the Nou Camp last season. How United could do with that player now.

Due to the circumstances, opposition, and season, everyone seems keen to move on swiftly. But it’s indicative of where United is, that the manager has made him available for selection vs Wolves, I’m not sure that would’ve happened last season.

The Dutchman might’ve learned from keeping matters as internal as possible and attracting as little noise as possible. Rashford has played for United for nine seasons, he’s aware of the burdening scrutiny that comes with playing for the club, the ballooning magnifying glass of each issue. Yet he still went ahead and stayed out late on Thursday night.

The season is losing its importance, but Rashford isn’t the one who should be taking things lightly. Things could’ve easily gone poor vs Newport and the incident would’ve really blown up then.

The Red Devils, need a firing, motivated forward which Rashford can be, but this incident showcases at the moment he isn’t.