Jamie O’Hara and Gabriel Agbonlahor have defended Marcus Rashford’s decision to take a short break in New York, despite criticism from some quarters. The Manchester United striker withdrew from the England squad this week due to an injury sustained in the FA Cup game against Fulham. However, he was then spotted in New York with his girlfriend, leading to some criticism of his decision-making. O’Hara and Agbonlahor, speaking on talkSPORT, both suggested that Rashford deserved a break after playing 44 games this season. Agbonlahor added that the break would be good for the player ahead of a tough end to the season.
England manager Gareth Southgate also commented on Rashford’s decision, admitting that he was disappointed not to have the striker available for the upcoming game against Ukraine. However, he also acknowledged that Rashford had not been available for selection on many occasions, so his absence was not as significant as it might have been. Southgate had previously praised Rashford for his performances this season, but also suggested that he needed to be more consistent in order to secure a regular place in the England team.
Rashford has been one of United’s most important players this season, scoring 18 goals in all competitions. He has also been involved in a number of off-field initiatives, including campaigning for free school meals for children during the pandemic. His decision to take a short break has therefore attracted a lot of attention, with some suggesting that he should have remained in England to focus on his recovery and preparation for the rest of the season.
However, O’Hara and Agbonlahor both argued that Rashford deserved a break after a gruelling season. They also suggested that he should be allowed to enjoy some time away from football, rather than being criticised for his decision. Rashford himself has not commented on the controversy, but has posted pictures of himself and his girlfriend enjoying their time in New York on social media.
The debate over Rashford’s decision highlights the pressures faced by professional footballers, who are expected to perform at the highest level week in, week out. With the season now entering its final stages, many players will be feeling the strain of a long and demanding campaign. Rashford’s decision to take a short break may therefore be seen as a sensible move, allowing him to recharge his batteries ahead of the crucial games to come.
Ultimately, the decision over whether or not Rashford should have taken a break is a matter for him and his club. However, the debate over his decision highlights the intense scrutiny that professional footballers are under, and the need for them to balance their physical and mental wellbeing with the demands of their sport. As the season enters its final stages, many players will be hoping to avoid injury and fatigue, while also delivering their best performances when it matters most.