Marcus Rashford has recalled how he felt like he received a reality check at Manchester United after Louis van Gaal was sacked.
United striker Rashford was handed his professional debut by van Gaal in 2016 – as he netted twice against Midtjylland in the Europa League before bagging another brace against Arsenal in the Premier League three days later.
Rashford picked up his first piece of silverware at the end of that season, as the Red Devils lifted the FA Cup – by beating Crystal Palace .
Dutchman van Gaal was sacked in the aftermath of the victory at Wembley, with Jose Mourinho replacing him.
That winner’s medal so early in his career gave Rashford expectations of adding to his trophy cabinet, but the England hit man has only managed League Cup and Europa League success since.
Rashford recalled to Robin van Persie how life was under van Gaal – including his reaction to getting hooked at half time against Tottenham .
“The time with Louis was very good for me,” Rashford told BT Sport. “And Giggsy as well, he helped me a lot. Because that transition [from the reserves to the first-team] can be hard because I hadn’t played much reserve football. I was on the bench for the first-team before I’d even started for the reserves.
“Van Gaal was top. At the time I was getting a lot of praise and attention from everywhere outside, but the biggest thing for me were his (Van Gaal’s) words. That was what was making me smile every day. To be part of Man United’s first team.
“There were some games when it was difficult. I remember a game – Tottenham away – when he took me off at half-time. The next day we spoke honestly. I was still smiling.
“The way he dealt with the situation, because I know I didn’t play a good game, the team didn’t play a good game, the coach was late, we had 20 minutes to warm-up, then they score three goals. It was unbelievable. That was the game, Tottenham away [when I realised I was in a man’s world].
“Sometimes we are our biggest nightmare. We want everything too fast. Because we won the FA Cup with Van Gaal I had it in my mind that we were going to win everything. So you’re going into the season with expectations and you get a reality check.”