Marcus Rashford says Manchester United’s players ‘are a lot fitter’ under Erik ten Hag

Marcus Rashford says Manchester United’s players ‘are a lot fitter’ under Erik ten Hag as the striker tries to hit the ground running ahead of the new season having scored just five times last term

  • Manchester United are in Melbourne for the second stop on their pre-season tour
  • Erik ten Hag’s side take on Melbourne Victory at the MCG on Friday
  • Striker Rashford believes the players’ fitness levels are higher under the new boss
  • Rashford came into last season late after undergoing shoulder surgery
  • England star scored only five times but is determined to improve this time

Marcus Rashford believes Manchester United’s players are already a lot fitter under new manager Erik ten Hag as they prepare for the new season.

The Dutchman, who succeeded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United’s permanent boss, has been working his squad hard during training sessions both in Manchester and on the club’s pre-season tour, which has now arrived in Melbourne.

And England striker Rashford, who endured a troubled 2021-22 campaign in which he scored only five goals, says he is already feeling the benefits of the Ten Hag revolution at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford believes Manchester United's players are fitter under new boss Erik ten Hag

Marcus Rashford believes Manchester United’s players are fitter under new boss Erik ten Hag

The England striker played the first half of United's 4-0 win over Liverpool in Bangkok

The England striker played the first half of United’s 4-0 win over Liverpool in Bangkok

Speaking ahead of United’s friendly with Melbourne Victory on Friday, Rashford said: ‘It’s been a bit unnatural for me to have such a long break in the summer, just under four weeks, and I could have a break physically and mentally.

It’s massive to have a full pre-season. This is the first year I’ve been with the team from the beginning and I already feel a lot better.

‘For me it is a fresh start, something I am looking forward to.

I think the first two-and-a-half weeks of training have been good, we’re a lot fitter than we were last season and also we’re making mistakes along the way so we have a lot of room for improvement. ‘

Those fitness levels showed when United thrashed Liverpool 4-0 in their first tour match in Bangkok on Tuesday, with Rashford playing the first half before making way for Anthony Elanga.

Ten Hag and Rashford addressed the media ahead of Friday's game with Melbourne Victory

Ten Hag and Rashford addressed the media ahead of Friday’s game with Melbourne Victory

Rashford said Ten Hag's intense training sessions have boosted the squad's fitness levels

Rashford said Ten Hag’s intense training sessions have boosted the squad’s fitness levels

Ten Hag refused to get too carried away afterwards, however, and pointed to a number of mistakes that needed to be addressed.

And Rashford added: ‘I always say to myself it’s a lot easier to make mistakes in a team that’s winning.

‘The last game against Liverpool, for example, we won but we made a lot of mistakes. Individually it’s the same.

‘When you’re losing, it’s difficult – we’re all sportsmen and we don’t like to lose. When that happens you have to refocus and try to win the next game.

It’s a big club we play for and we’re expected to win and we have to work hard to improve.

‘We’re doing all this hard work now and trying to win as many games as we can in pre-season and then be ready for the start of the season.’

Rashford, 24, endured a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, scoring just five times for United

Rashford, 24, endured a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, scoring just five times for United

Rashford, 24, missed pre-season under Solskjaer 12 months ago after undergoing shoulder surgery, a procedure which came off the back of the disappointment of missing a penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

Rashford didn’t play a match for United until October 16 and didn’t get anywhere close to his best form as United lurched from one disaster to another.

He hit the ground running in a tournament-free summer by working hard on his fitness levels during a holiday to California in June.

Having started the pre-season in encouraging fashion against Liverpool, United are now in Australia for three matches.

Rashford hits the gym during his holiday to California as he tries to hit the ground running

Rashford hits the gym during his holiday to California as he tries to hit the ground running

They take on A-League side Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday and then play Crystal Palace at the same venue on Tuesday before heading to Perth to face Aston Villa on July 23.

A friendly with Atletico Madrid in Oslo on July 30 and then Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford the following day round off their pre-season before the Premier League begins at home to Brighton on August 7.

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