Marcus Rashford angrily kicked Manchester United’s dressing-room door after he was sent off at Burnley on Sunday.
No damage was caused, according to those who witnessed the incident, but it was a sign of frustration from the usually placid youngster in response to the first red card of his career.
Rashford was furious with himself for retaliating after a cynical kick from Phil Bardsley by thrusting his forehead into the Burnley defender’s face, and vented his feelings as he returned to the away dressing-room at Turf Moor.
The 20-year-old issued a public apology after the game for his sending-off, which has earned him a ban for violent conduct.
Manager Jose Mourinho described Rashford as ‘a naive boy’ although it is understood that he will not be fined by the club.
However, there are concerns that Rashford’s actions were also born out of a growing sense of frustration over his situation at United.
His dismissal 10 minutes after replacing Alexis Sanchez means he will miss three games for United after the international break at a time when he is struggling to hold down a first-team place.
Indeed, Rashford has become an increasingly unhappy figure since Mourinho took over at Old Trafford two years ago, and is understood to have questioned his role in the team.
The Portuguese coach is aware of United’s proud record of promoting academy players and that Rashford in particular is the current local hero for supporters.
Although Mourinho likes to point out the number of games the Wythenshawe-born forward has played under him — 53 in 2016-17 and 52 in 2017-18 — a more accurate gauge is the minutes per game due to the number of times he has been a substitute or replaced.
Rashford’s ratio of 54.
32 minutes per game under Mourinho is significantly less than the average of 78.5 minutes he enjoyed under Louis van Gaal over 18 games after breaking into the first team in February 2016.
ashford’s strike rate of a goal every 2.25 games for the Dutchman (eight goals in 18 games) also compares favourably with his average of one every 4.5 appearances under his successor (24 goals in 108 games).
That is largely down to Mourinho’s preference for deploying Rashford in a wider role, as he did at Burnley.
With Romelu Lukaku and Sanchez automatic choices for two of the forward positions, Rashford has often found himself competing with Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata for the other slot.
In the 3-0 loss to Tottenham at Old Trafford last Monday, Mourinho used new signing Fred in an advanced role and then brought on Marouane Fellaini rather than Rashford when he needed a goal.
The youngster’s problems at club level extend to his country, with Rashford falling behind his friend Lingard in the England pecking order as well.
After scoring a fine goal against Costa Rica at Elland Road in England’s final World Cup warm-up in June, he started only one game in Russia and that was the largely irrelevant group fixture against Belgium when Gareth Southgate made eight changes.
Rashford is said by some at United to have been more sullen since returning from the World Cup, and there is a feeling that he needs to start making the most of his opportunities to earn Mourinho’s trust.
It has been noted at United’s training ground that he is on the periphery of a clique of players, including Paul Pogba, Martial and Eric Bailly, who are out of favour with the manager.
In the meantime, he continues to earn in the region of £45,000 a week under the four-year contract he signed in May 2016, with talks likely to begin over a new deal in the near future.
He remains a Manchester boy at heart and last week his brother retweeted a message from one fan who spotted him driving down Deansgate handing out money to the homeless from his car.