Cristiano Ronaldo has provided the largest issue facing Erik ten Hag in his first season at Manchester United, according to Laurie Whitwell.
The Athletic journalist highlighted the impact of Ronaldo’s early exit from the warmup against Rayo Vallecano, stressing that the Portugal captain acted “of his own accord, forcing United to figure out how to respond.”
The official line from the club, of course, was to say that Ronaldo was one of many to leave early and that it was no issue.
The first of those claims was compounded by Ten Hag, but not the second.
“It’s unacceptable, for everybody,” he said.
“We are a team, and you have to stay until the end.”
As Whitwell writes, for the Dutchman the “driving ethos is the collective” while Ronaldo is “a man apart and has been acting as such.”
This dichotomy may be news to no one, given that Ronaldo has always been an individualist – even prompting the United Matchday Magazine to debate his legend status at the club – but its prevalence has never been more pronounced than it is right now.
However the legendary goalscorer is “increasingly likely” to stay at Old Trafford according to the reliable reporter, given that no Champions League clubs are queuing up to sign him.
In fact, the only bid United have fielded has been from “an unnamed Saudi Arabian club.”
At boardroom level, Joel Glazer has been involved in discussions and seems to be a major influence behind the club’s insistence that Ronaldo is not for sale.
And while “it is understood” that others involved have argued that the player needs to be shown the door, it seems that Ten Hag will need to reintegrate Ronaldo into the squad, with the additional task of managing the scrutiny that surrounds Ronaldo’s antics added to his remit.
Given the size of the job facing the new manager this season, before even considering the Ronaldo circus, perhaps those above Ten Hag should be making decisions that would make his life easier rather than more difficult?
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