It was a Sunday to forget for Manchester United as their nine-game unbeaten run came to a disappointing end as they succumbed to a 1-3 defeat at the hands of unfancied Aston Villa.
The defeat glaringly exposed the lack of attacking options at Erik ten Hag’s disposal while the manager was also guilty of making a few dubious selection calls himself.
Ten Hag has had to deal with the profligacy of his forwards for a while now. Marcus Rashford, who is the current top goalscorer with seven in all competitions, has been inconsistent at best and has been guilty of missing easy chances.
Anthony Martial‘s injury woes have meant he has hardly played. However, the biggest disappointment so far this season has been the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo.
He was last season’s top scorer but this year has looked like a shadow of his former self. The Portuguese has only managed to score thrice in 16 games, not the kind of return anybody would have expected.
🤨 Tim: “Why does Ten Hag have to justify giving Ronaldo the captains armband?”
🙄 Ally: “Ronaldo is a leader! Man Utd were poor but not because he was captain.”
🔥 Tim: “Just keep your mouth shut!”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 7, 2022
His off-field demeanor has not helped matters with the Portugal international refusing to come on as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur while he did not attend pre-season due to personal reasons.
Ten Hag has done his best to deal with the disciplinary issues and was lauded for having the courage to drop him when his antics crossed the line.
In a bid to try and help restore his confidence, the Dutch manager gave Ronaldo the captain’s armband for the Villa game but it did not bear fruit in the end.
Ronaldo looked lost most of the time and his lack of pressing hampered the team’s style along with teammates tendency to try and find him at every given opportunity.
ETH should “shut up”, says Sherwood
And when the gaffer was asked about why he chose to give the armband to Ronaldo despite the presence of David de Gea, Casemiro, the manager said, “Harry Maguire is on the bench, our captain of the club.
“Then it is about David de Gea who is a leader but is a goalie and is far away from the outfield. Then Casemiro is the leader but he is not speaking perfect English so then Cristiano is the leader.”
Former Tottenham Hotspur boss Tim Sherwood took offence at Ten Hag’s statement, alluding to the Dutchman’s comments signifying that Ronaldo was essentially fourth or fifth choice in the pecking order.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Sherwood said: “What basically he’s saying, he was fifth choice isn’t he?
“Why he has to justify why he’s given Cristiano Ronaldo the armband, I just don’t know. Just keep your mouth shut.”
Ten Hag just cannot catch a break with Ronaldo and fans and the club will be better served if the Portuguese leaves in January and the club spend to bring in a quality replacement.