Marcus Rashford is all the more motivated to get Manchester United back to the top by seeing the eye-catching success of rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.
After stumbling home sixth at the end of a tumultuous Premier League season, the 20-time champions are in the midst of a rebuilding job as they look to compete for major trophies under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Plenty of work is required to achieve that, but Rashford is determined to return United to the summit of the English game, having earlier this month signed a new four-year deal with the option of a further season.
“I think the mood is how it should be, really,” the England forward said.
“Everyone’s positive. We know that last season wasn’t good enough, but we’ve put it behind us and we’ve worked harder than ever to try and put things right and going into the season that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“For me, it’s always been a goal of mine to help the club get back to where they were and what we all know as Manchester United.
“So, the decision (to sign a new deal) wasn’t a hard decision because I don’t feel like we’ve done that.
“Not only me, that’s something the dressing room shares, and everyone’s looking forward to trying to get that dream done.”
And for academy graduate Rashford, the hurt of seeing rivals City dominate domestically and Liverpool lift the Champions League fuels him even further.
“For me (it makes me more motivated), yeah,” he said at the WACA in Perth.
“That makes putting United back to where they were even a bigger challenge.
“You know, you never shy away from a challenge, so it’s important that we face it head on. What’s happened has happened and we have to move forward as a team.”
Rashford was the first United player to speak to the mass media since the squad returned for pre-season training, with a double session on United’s first full day in Perth meaning the forward feels in much better shape than this time last year.
The 21-year-old says the sessions have been “quite tough” and morale is good, despite speculation about key players and even talk of a bust-up between Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, something Solskjaer dismissed out of hand.
It is not the first time Lingard has been under the spotlight this summer, with videos from his holiday with Rashford and their friends leading to criticism and scrutiny.
One in particular led to widespread criticism, with the attacking midfielder heard swearing before a friend is seen simulating having sex inside their hotel.
Lingard is believed to have meant to save the video rather than posting it on Snapchat and Rashford has defended his United team-mate.
“I’ve not spoken to the manager about it,” he said.
“But from what I’ve seen of it, people have to understand that he was enjoying his holiday and it was a mistake, you know, so there’s not really much I can say about that.”
PA understands that the Old Trafford giants have offered the 28-year-old a new and improved deal in an attempt to finally agree upon a contract extension.
Negotiations with De Gea failed to bring a resolution last season, with demands around the deal holding things up despite the goalkeeper’s apparent desire to remain at a club he joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
The situation is becoming more pressing as the Spain international is out of contract next summer, with Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid – a club he was so close to joining in 2015 – reported to be among the interested parties.
Asked about De Gea’s situation, United boss Solskjaer said: “David has had a summer now where he’s been negotiating and thinking about his contract, so we hope that we’re going to get it sorted soon.
“I’m positive. Of course, with David, I’ve said many times how lucky I am and how happy we are to have him in the goal, so we hope he stays here for many years.”
Pogba, United’s record signing, has travelled with the squad to Australia to kick-off their pre-season tour.
That is despite the fact Raiola, the player’s agent, said last week that everyone at Old Trafford is aware that Pogba wants to leave and that he was “in the process” of arranging a move for the midfielder.
Now Raiola has defended his client while questioning why United have not spoken out against criticism of the France international.
“The player has done nothing wrong, he has been respectful and professional in every way,” Raiola said in a statement released to talkSPORT.
“The club knows his feeling for a long time, it is a shame other people only like to criticise without the right information and I’m also sorry that the club does not take any position against this.
“Hopefully there will soon be a satisfying solution for all parties.”
Pogba trained with his United team-mates in Australia as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side got their pre-season tour under way earlier on Tuesday.
Three years after returning to Old Trafford in what was a world-record deal, the 26-year-old admitted during the off-season that this “could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else.”
Solskjaer’s men arrived in Perth on Monday and went on a walkaround, where footage of a supposed argument between Pogba and Jesse Lingard caused ripples.
But the pair worked alongside one another as United’s first session in Australia got under way at the WACA on Tuesday, when new boys Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James formed part of the group.
Solskjaer has plenty of questions to answer regarding his squad when he faces the media for the first time in a press conference on Wednesday.
One line of enquiry is likely to be whether the club will launch a firm offer to sign Mario Lemina from Southampton.
PA understands United, as well as Arsenal and Leicester, have expressed an interest in Lemina, who played alongside Pogba at Juventus for the 2015/16 season.
Signed from the Serie A side two years ago, the 25-year-old looks set to leave St Mary’s this summer after a stop-start time on the south coast.
None of the Premier League trio have been willing to meet Southampton’s valuation as of yet.