Cristiano Ronaldo news: Portuguese star is Erik ten Hag’s solution not problem at Man Utd | Football | Sport


The debate over whether Manchester United should move Cristiano Ronaldo on at the end of the season is coming to a head. A decision will have to be made soon. But in reality there is no decision to be made. When a patient is in intensive care, why on earth would they unplug their own life support machine?

Another Ronaldo rescue job on Thursday night against Chelsea underlined his importance to United. A dash into space, a goose-down touch to kill Nemanja Matic’s pass, an explosion of his right foot and in a flash United were level. 

They did not deserve their point but when a club has a player of Ronaldo’s unique gifts, such welcome miscarriages of justice are always possible. 

Why, in their current plight, anyone at United – or more importantly anyone on their way to United – would entertain the prospect of Ronaldo leaving is baffling.

In a season of desperate under-achievement, he has been one of the few beacons of hope. Despite the chaotic surroundings he has found himself in on his return to Old Trafford, he has delivered his side of the bargain. 

Without his goals, United would not have made it out of the Champions League group stage and would have been flailing around in mid-table in the Premier League. Sixth place still represents a colossal collective failure for a club of United’s resources and such has been the fall-off in confidence and cohesion in recent weeks they could well slide further down the table before a cursed season comes to an end.


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There is a huge rebuilding operation for Erik ten Hag to do at Old Trafford. He has a long list of out-of-contract players to ship out and plenty of others who are underperforming to make calls upon. 

He has many problems to solve but Ronaldo is not one of them. If the Dutchman has to adapt his preferred Ajax style to accommodate one of the greatest players of all time then he should do so.

In fact, he should make the Portuguese his captain. Ronaldo has a massive ego so harness it by making him the official leader and figurehead. He is not temperamentally suited to being a cog in the machine, he is best as the nameplate on the front. Ronaldo, as captain, will set standards in the United team that will pull them up, not drag them down.

It would be less of a blow to the current incumbent, Harry Maguire, than a merciful release which would allow the centre-back to concentrate on the pressing business of getting back to the level of an international defender again. That is if Maguire is still at United next season.

The question of whether Ronaldo will be around too has yet to be settled. Ralf Rangnick admitted on Thursday night his future remained up in the air but the confirmation from United’s interim manager that the club were attempting to bring in a couple of new strikers only added to speculation they were seriously considering a Ronaldo-less future.

Perhaps it is more a case of Ronaldo considering a United-less future. He could be forgiven if that was the case. 

Ronaldo, though, holds a genuine affection for Manchester United. He wants them to succeed. And as he can be a major catalyst for that as the new United takes shape, it makes sense for both parties for him to stay on.

Of all the conversations Ten Hag will need to have, the one with Ronaldo should be the shortest. 

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