Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, John Hartson has delivered his assessment amid reports that Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford are allowing off-field activities to get in the way of his football career.
Reports earlier this week claimed Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had pulled both him and Rashford aside to demand they concentrate on their football.
Last year, Rashford opened his own label called ‘Be Yourself’, whilst Lingard has long since held his own merchandise brand, ‘JLINGZ’.
The pair have come under fire in recent weeks and months for their poor form for United and, while there are plenty of reasons to explain their form, Hartson believes it’s important players – at United and elsewhere – stay professional and switched on.
He said: “Their sole focus should be on football, that’s their bread and butter; that’s what they get paid to do. I’m not saying don’t don’t get involved in outside activities.
“You look at David Beckham, all the outside businesses that he had, it didn’t affect Beckham’s football. If you want to have outside interests, that’s absolutely fine. That’s your prerogative. But you have to go into training and train properly and perform on the weekend because that’s what you do for a living.
“You have to respect the people that pay your wages and you have to respect the fans. You play for the shirt and if that stops it’s not acceptable.”
Talk about hitting the nail on the head. In a modern world dominated by social media and ‘influencers’, it is easy to get lost in all the drama surrounding it. Instagram followers and not trophies seems to be the deal-breaker these days for some professional footballers.
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If the likes of Rashford and Lingard are performing for United, then there would be no problem with what they are doing off-the-pitch. The issues arise when they deliver below-par performances, and then look like they’re far more interested in getting likes on their social media profiles.
As Hartson suggests, they need to ensure they’re treating their football careers with exemplary professionalism before worrying about outside interests.