Marcus Rashford admits his side’s first-half display against Manchester City was “not a Manchester United performance” and they have to learn to control key moments better.
United were given a footballing lesson by their neighbours in the first 45 minutes of their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford and found themselves three goals down.
Striker Rashford’s 17th goal of the season gave the Red Devils a lifeline they did not really deserve for the return leg later this month and the England international knows they have to improve.
“We were way off the tempo. They changed a little bit and brought more players deeper than the last time we played against them,” said the 22-year-old.
“On the pitch we have to adapt. We have to try to control the situation better than the way we did.
“The first half wasn’t a Man United performance but the second half we showed character and courage and it was more like us.
“Those key moments, we have to learn to control them better than we have done this season.
“It’s a learning curve for us. We’ll learn from it but it’s not going to keep us down.
“We’re going to put it behind us and the best way to do that is by winning the next game.”
United may be fifth in the Premier League but are 27 points adrift of runaway leaders and arch-rivals Liverpool.
Consistency has been a problem, with three defeats in their last six matches, but Rashford believes they have shown they can compete with their top-six rivals.
Only a month ago they beat City at the Etihad in the league, but the United academy graduate believes they will have to put in a performance akin to last March’s last-gasp Champions League comeback to beat Paris St Germain if they are to turn things around in the second leg.
“Nobody started playing football to lose games. I don’t think that’s the problem,” he added.
“I think everyone knows that we want to win and that the team is fighting. We have to continue to do that.
“Everything can improve a lot. We’re probably only showing half of what we can do as a team.
“We need to keep fighting to find that extra percentage that will win us games.
“It’s a completely different game (to PSG), different players, different team. What’s important is the character that we showed.
“It happened against PSG and we’re going to have to find that again. There’s always a chance if we do that.
“It (his late goal) makes it doable but to be honest our minds aren’t on the second leg.”
Rashford was named captain on the night but there were mixed emotions.
“It’s obviously a proud moment but for me and the other players it’s the result that matters,” he said. “It’s one I’ll probably look back on as a nice moment but for now it’s not something that’s on my mind.
“Whether you have the armband or not you have to put that responsibility on your own shoulders and try to show yourself as a Man United player.”