Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has awkwardly addressed his “prioritise football” comment on Marcus Rashford while sat next to the Manchester United forward on Champions League press duty.
The Red Devils boss welcomed the England international back into his plans for the first time this season on Saturday, with Rashford fully recovered from a shoulder problem to see 25 minutes off the bench in a 4-2 defeat at Leicester.
Rashord did find the target in that contest, as he returned to action for the first time since the Euro 2020 final, and Solskjaer insists that his controversial comments were actually related to the forward now being able to focus on his football, being injury-free.
What did Solskjaer say?
The United boss told reporters at the King Power Stadium: “I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come.
“He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is learning, getting more experienced.
“He has time to reflect on… what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things and now to… maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he’s got a challenge on his hands here at Man United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England, and I think Marcus is one of those who takes up those challenges.
“He is going to express himself and his talent and he knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be.”
How did Solskjaer respond?
The Norwegian was surprised to see a throwaway comment generate so many headlines, with Solskjaer eager to put the record straight ahead of a European encounter with Atalanta on Wednesday.
He said when taking a seat in front of the assembled media: “Let’s get the elephant out of the room… we’re so unbelievably proud of what he’s done.
“You made a headline out of one little comment that I never intended to be the focus of my comment. I just wanted to start with that so we got it out of the way.”
Rashford, who is now an MBE on the back of his political work during the coronavirus pandemic , was sat next to his manager and was spared an uncomfortable moment of his own as attention swiftly turned towards United’s efforts to offer a positive response to a disappointing setback against Leicester.