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Marcus Rashford: Man Utd forward admits 'mistakes' but hits back at critics questioning his commitment

Marcus Rashford hits back at criticism over his commitment to Manchester United but admits "mistakes" after he made an unsanctioned trip to Belfast last month; watch the Manchester derby live on Sky Sports Premier League from 3pm on Sunday; kick-off 3.30pm

Marcus Rashford
Image: Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has endured a tough season on and off the pitch

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has hit back at critics questioning his commitment to the club but has admitted he has "made mistakes".

The 26-year-old was recently the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings at Man Utd after an unsanctioned trip to Belfast last month saw him report ill for training and miss the FA Cup third-round win at Newport.

Rashford was also criticised earlier this season for going to a nightclub after October's 3-0 derby defeat to Manchester City.

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The England forward has struggled on the pitch too this season, scoring just five goals in 32 games across all competitions, while his body language and overall demeanour throughout the campaign has been questioned.

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Rashford attempts to apply pressure against Ross Barkley late on in Manchester United's win over Luton

But Rashford has now broken his silence over both his form and off-pitch issues in a first-person account on The Players' Tribune in which he also says he believes he has been unfairly targeted by the media because of his campaigning over free school meals in England during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "I don't normally like to respond to things said about me. It's not in my nature. I'm an introvert. I don't even like talking about myself, unless I really know you. So 99 per cent of the time, I can ignore the noise. But sometimes, certain lines get crossed, and I can't help but want people to just understand who I am as a person.

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Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke highlights the importance of Rashford

"I'm not trying to have a go at the media. I understand the game, you know what I mean? They're not really writing about me. It's like they're writing about this character, 'Marcus Rashford'. It can't just be about me as a 26-year-old lad on a night out, or a lad getting a parking ticket. It's got to be about how much my car costs, guessing my weekly salary, my jewellery or even my tattoos. It's got to be about my body language, and questioning my morals, and speculating about my family, and my football future. There's a tone to it that you don't get with all footballers. Let's just leave it at that.

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"I think some of it goes back to the pandemic. I was just trying to use my voice to make sure that kids weren't going hungry, because I know exactly how it feels. For some reason, that seemed to rub certain people the wrong way. It seems like they've been waiting for me to have a human moment so they can point the finger and say, 'See? See who he really is?'

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Gary Neville said Rashford must be 'faultless' for the rest of the season

"Listen, I'm not a perfect person. When I make a mistake, I'll be the first one to put my hand up and say that I need to do better. But if you ever question my commitment to Man United, that's when I have to speak up. It's like somebody questioning my entire identity, and everything I stand for as a man. I grew up here. I have played for this club since I was a boy. My family turned down life-changing money when I was a kid so I could wear this badge."

He added: "Listen, the thing is, football can be a bubble. I have tried to stay a normal person. I have tried to keep my same friends. I have tried my best not to change, even when I'm on a night out or on holiday. But there's another side to that. I'm a human being. I've made mistakes that a lot of lads in their 20s make, and I've tried to learn from them. But I've also made sacrifices that nobody sees. The thing that I want you to understand is that money is not what keeps you playing through the hard times. It's the love of the game, plain and simple.

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Chris Sutton criticised Rashford's decision to go on a trip to Belfast

"I can take any criticism. I can take any headline. From podcasts, social media and the papers. I can take it. But if you start questioning my commitment to this club and my love for football and bringing my family into it, then I'd simply ask you to have a bit more humanity."

Manchester United are enduring an underwhelming season with Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Fulham leaving Erik ten Hag's side sixth in the Premier League and eight points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Manchester United and Fulham

But Rashford is confident United will "be back where they belong".

He said: "I promise you, the world has not seen the best of this United squad and these players. We want to be back playing in the Champions League, then we have a massive international tournament at the end of the season.

"We will be back where we belong. We just have to keep working, and that starts with me. If you back me, good. If you doubt me, even better."

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