Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United has been under the microscope for the entirety of the summer transfer window, with his intention to depart clear despite a lack of obvious Champions League suitors.
A report from The Athletic indicates that Erik ten Hag may be forced to move the player on lest he struggle to contend with a player trying to manage his team for him.
In the report, it is suggested that Cristiano Ronaldo rounded up his dressing-room supporters back in February to convince interim Ralf Rangnick to alter his team selections and tactical approach.
Backed by his followers, Ronaldo insisted that he needed a strike partner up front and lobbied for Edinson Cavani to join him as a regular feature of the Manchester United attack.
The pair had developed an okay partnership towards the tail end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, although it did little to keep the Norwegian in a job.
Nevertheless, the prospect of the battling Uruguayan alongside him perhaps made sense, as it would have allowed Ronaldo to focus on his goalscoring output while Cavani provided United with a focal point at centre forward.
Perhaps more alarmingly, Ronaldo demanded that Harry Maguire – not invited to the meeting – be dropped.
While the Englishman had put in a series of sub-par performances, it is worrisome that the striker saw it as his right to go behind Maguire’s back to influence team selection.
Rangnick saw it as worrisome too, believing it to be an “inappropriate” discussion topic without his captain present.
Ronaldo retorted that Maguire was “part of the problem,” suggesting that he wanted him stripped of the captaincy as well. While a number of players are said to have apologised to Rangnick after the meeting, the superstar striker was not among them.
Maguire has endured a difficult spell of late and has been demoted to the bench under Erik ten Hag’s management.
However, there is no doubt that his decision has not been influenced by any Machiavellian scheming from his players – it is a direct result of Ten Hag’s own observations and determination to achieve his vision. That same observation has seen Ronaldo demoted to the bench alongside Maguire.
Should Ronaldo end up staying at Manchester United this season, the manager will be tasked with keeping one eye open at all times in a dressing room containing individuals so eager to go behind each other’s backs.
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