Marcus Rashford’s campaigning ‘was a bit too much for him’ and he’s better off ‘in a different headspace’ at the World Cup, suggests Wayne Rooney, who says his old team-mate should ‘just focus on his football’
Former England captain Wayne Rooney has claimed that Marcus Rashford’s campaigning was ‘a bit too much for him’ amid the forward’s recent turnaround in form.
Rashford spent months pushing for the government to take better care of children in Britain, with the 25-year-old campaigning for more free school meals having struggled himself when he was younger.
But via The Times, Rooney has urged his former team-mate to ‘just focus on his football’ with Rashford the joint leading scorer at the World Cup so far and in fine form going into the knock-out stages of the tournament.
Wayne Rooney has urged Marcus Rashford to ‘just focus on his football’ at the World Cup
The England forward has spent months pushing for the government to take better care of children in Britain
‘It looks like Marcus is in a much better place in his head and the big thing, for me, is that during Covid he did so much campaigning work and got involved with a lot of stuff off the pitch’, Rooney said.
‘His achievements were incredible, but I think it might have been a bit too much for him. Rather than being able to just focus on his football, there was a lot on his plate, whereas what we’ve seen this season is very much a focus on football first rather than anything else. From some of the goals he has scored, you can see he is in a different headspace.
‘I watched Marcus develop at Manchester United and there are not many players with his speed and direct running at goal. You never know how much football players these days actually watch but I know from being in camps that at tournaments you sit around together watching a lot of games as a group.’
Former United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s had previously urged Rashford to ‘prioritise his football’ over his stellar charity and campaigning work, which left the Manchester United forward’s camp ‘upset’, according to a report.
Rashford’s work saw him awarded with an MBE in 2020 after he was also able to force a U-turns from the government on free school meals.
Solskjaer’s words have no prevented Rooney echoing the Norwegian’s opinion, however, despite Rashford’s return to form.
Former United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had previously urged Rashford to stick to football, but his comments were not well-received
He has enjoyed a fine World Cup so far with three goals in as many games out in Qatar
His brace against Wales highlighted his recent return to form for both club and country
England manager Gareth Southgate is facing a selection dilemma ahead of the Senegal game, with all of his forwards pushing for a starting place.
Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Callum Wilson, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden have all found the net in the tournament so far, with captain Harry Kane the only forward yet to strike.
Kane is certain to play, however, and has registered three assists in as many games Qatar. And Rooney admitted he thinks Rashford is the best forward to play with him, before comparing him to France star man Kylian Mbappe.
Rooney said his former team-mate’s campaigning ‘was a bit too much for him’ off the field
‘You see his confidence and his willingness to run in behind. He always wants the ball’, Rooney said. ‘That Marcus Rashford is a real asset for England.
‘If Harry Kane is going to drop deep and play through balls then Marcus, with those runs, is probably the best player for Harry to play with.
‘And I reckon, watching France, Marcus will be watching Kylian Mbappe and how, when he gets the ball on the left, he is so fast and direct. I reckon Marcus will be looking at Mbappe and thinking, “I can do that”.’
The 25-year-old has also returned to form for club side Manchester United in recent months