MARCUS RASHFORD had probably given up hope last summer of being in Qatar as his miserable last season came to a close.
Indeed it was questionable whether he should be playing for Manchester United never mind England.
Marcus Rashford is delighted to be part of the England World Cup squadCredit: Getty
The forward paid credit to Erik ten Hag for the turnaroundCredit: Getty
He was used as a sub nearly as many times as he started games in the league – 12 to 13.
His form and confidence was shot and there were even thoughts in his camp as to whether a move abroad was needed to revive his career.
Fast forward and just over four months of the Erik ten Hag reign has revived the 25-year-old and got him back in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Rashford said: “He’s had a big impact, with a lot of changes. It takes some time to adapt for him and the players as well.
“But so far, it’s been good. We’re enjoying working under him and we’re just looking forward to what the future holds.”
His last kick of a ball for the Three Lions boss came with his missed penalty in the shoot-out in the Euros final against Italy.
There looked little chance of him adding to his 46 caps and 12 goals as last season ended.
Ten Hag had belief in him, has had meetings at Carrington with him one-to-one and it has been like having a new player.
The forward said: “It was a tight game. We weren’t playing as well as we would have liked to.
“We’d obviously played a lot of games; we were just coming to the end of that block of tough games in a short space of time.
“So I felt we were maybe a bit tired and not 100 per cent at it, but we were in the game, we were creating chances. We could have scored one or two goals before; I could have scored one before as well.
“But I just felt like I was getting in good positions you know? I felt like it was going to come.
“I just had to keep investing my energy in making the box, making the back post, getting across the front post – whatever I felt was needed in the moment… just invest 100 per cent to it.
“We got the goal, and then we had to defend well after that! It was obviously a nice game to win, and a special day for me to get that goal.”
Extra special for a player born and bred in Manchester and a fan of the club his whole life.
Still he admits that passion for the club which comes from being a supporter has had to be channelled on the pitch.
He said: “Obviously, being a fan, you feel everything that the lads are feeling watching the game.
“Sometimes you just get carried away – sometimes it’s happiness, sometimes it’s anger. But you just have to try and find a fine line, because it definitely affects your performance and your decision-making.
“It’s weird. It’s obviously impossible, but I have to try and block the fans out for me to keep my emotions in check.
“Because if I don’t, automatically it’s just natural for me to feel what they feel. And you can’t be on that rollercoaster.
“It took me probably a year for me to be able to fully be able to do it.
“It’s harder than what people might think it is, because there’s 75,000 people there in close proximity.
“But it was a shock to me: how connected you stay to that feeling of just being a fan.”
Those same fans who had started to doubt him are now revelling in his revival that has brought eight goals this season.
While Rashford puts a lot of it down to Ten Hag he also believes he benefitted from a good rest last summer.
Speaking to MUTV he said: “I didn’t know that I needed it.
“But when I’ve had it and when I came back, even towards the end of holidays, I was just eager to get back on the pre-season tour and just start playing games.
“There was a lot of things to look forward to. I just wanted to start the process and I probably needed (the break for) the mental side of things more than the physical, really.”
Southgate knows he has a player who can switch to number nine, play wide left, or as a number ten.
He can tear through defences with his pace again, link with his teammates and find the back of the net.
While he may not start the big kick-off for the country next week, he could be key coming from the bench.
Rashford is most certainly back, and ready.
Rashford is back in form for Manchester United againCredit: AFP
He trained with fellow England strikers Harry Kane and Callum Wilson in QatarCredit: PA