Last season hurt has brought squad together – Rashford
Marcus Rashford believes the trials and tribulations of the 2018/19 campaign have made the Manchester United players stronger.
United lost two of their opening three league games last season for the first time in 26 years, which included a 3-0 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, and this prompted then-manager Jose Mourinho to demand “respect” from critical journalists.
In September, the Red Devils suffered a third-round exit in the League Cup after losing to Derby County on penalties at home and this result piled the pressure on the Portuguese boss, who continued to be spiky in his press conferences.
Another incident was to come in October when Mourinho was involved in a tunnel incident at the end of a clash against his former club Chelsea. With Ross Barkley scoring a 96th-minute equaliser, Blues coach Marco Ianni celebrated the goal by running across the United bench and clenching his fists. An incensed Mourinho leapt up and attempted to chase Ianni down the tunnel, with security intervening.
The United board made the decision to sack Mourinho on December 18 after just seven wins from the first 17 Premier League games, leaving the 20-time English champions behind the league leaders.
Former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought in on a temporary basis until the end of the campaign and he made a terrific start, winning 10 of his first 11 matches, which included victories over Spurs and Arsenal.
The Norwegian also managed to guide the club to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, having produced a miraculous recovery to defeat Paris Saint-Germain the last-16 stage, and he was handed the job permanently on March 28.
Just when spirits seemed to have lifted around Old Trafford, United finished the season off dismally, winning just one of their last nine matches in all competitions, and there were slight doubts over the manager’s future.
Solskjaer was kept on and he managed to bring in three new summer signings to bolster his squad. Right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka and winger Daniel James arrived from Crystal Palace and Swansea City respectively, while Harry Maguire became the world’s most expensive defender when joining from Leicester City for £80million.
United started this season off in spectacular fashion, thrashing Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford, and England international Marcus Rashford opened the scoring from the spot before grabbing another in the second half.
It was a perfect start to the campaign and Rashford, who is expected to be the main man this term following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan, believes the disappointment of last season has brought the squad closer together.
“Looking back, I think it has definitely brought us together,” he told fanzine United Review. “I just feel like we all understand that we can’t start this season like we started and ended last season.”
Next up for United is a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday and the visitors will be looking to gain some revenge, having lost twice to Nuno Espirito Santo’s men last term, once in the league and in the FA Cup.