Man Utd boss Van Gaal vows to keep Rashford grounded

Man Utd boss Van Gaal vows to keep Rashford grounded
Jason Cairnduff REUTERS

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said on Tuesday he will have no problem keeping Marcus Rashford's feet on the ground after his remarkable start to life at the club.

The 18-year-old has made headlines after scoring four goals in his first two senior games for the club, with successive braces against FC Midtjylland and Arsenal.

It means that Van Gaal, whose side host Watford in the Premier League on Wednesday, will have a tough job leaving the teenager out, even as Anthony Martial nears a return to fitness after a recent hamstring injury.

United's manager is concerned about the level of media attention that Rashford is facing, but is adamant that the striker is level-headed enough to deal with it.

"First, I think that the media have to let him in peace and rest," Van Gaal told his pre-game press conference at United's Carrington training base.

"You are in front of his house and that kind of stuff. I don't think that is beneficial for a boy of 18. Give him time to be 18. We shall guide him in that way.

"I think he's a very modest guy so I don't think that will be a problem. When you have so much media attention, it can go another way, but I feel he can keep his feet on the ground."

United have had a troubled season, but are on the up again after three successive victories across three competitions, and looking to revitalise their challenge for a Champions League place.

Van Gaal's touchline antics have attracted as much attention as their recent improvement.

The Dutchman theatrically dived to the floor in front of fourth official Mike Dean when a decision went against his side during their 3-2 win over Arsenal on Sunday.

Manchester United vs Arsenal FCManchester United boss Louis van Gaal (bottom) gestures to fourth official Mike Dean (C) as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (R) looks on during the sides' Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

It harked back to his early managerial career, when he performed a flying kung fu-style kick on the touchline after his Ajax team were denied a penalty during the 1995 Champions League final against AC Milan.

At that time, Van Gaal was furious that Milan midfielder Marcel Desailly had escaped unpunished after a head-high tackle on Ajax striker Jari Litmanen.

The manager has adopted a more measured approach on the touchline in recent years, and has occasionally been criticised for lacking passion.

He insists that he does care, but has no plans to continue being demonstrative on the touchline, because he does not wish to be branded a "clown".

"It's not a part of my philosophy," he said. "I am not a clown. I am Louis van Gaal. I am a human being and a manager.

"My players have to think on the pitch. I help them more to train what I have said [so] that they see the solutions on the pitch. That's why I'm not doing that.

"I have done this also in the Champions League final. I was jumping like that also when there was a defender who was putting his foot at that height against Jari Litmanen.

"That was my way of saying it, but it was too emotional. You have to deal with the fourth official and the authority of the referee.

"I have to control my emotion and that is why I have apologised. But I don't feel sorry for it, because it's me. I think I was right."

In addition to Martial, defenders Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian could also return against Watford, with Van Gaal saying the trio "may be ready" to play.