Ten Hag must ‘engage’ with Ronaldo
According to Chris Armas, Ralf Rangnick’s former assistant, Erik ten Hag needs to “connect” with Cristiano Ronaldo and ask for his opinion if he wants to keep the Portuguese superstar satisfied at Manchester United.
Following United’s failure to make the Champions League last season, Ronaldo is apparently eager to depart Old Trafford once more.
Several clubs have been linked with a move for Ronaldo, but Chelsea apparently decided to focus on other targets; Bayern Munich said such a transfer would not align with their club policies; and Atletico Madrid fans have actively protested the idea of the club signing a Real Madrid great.
For the time being, it would appear Ronaldo is set to remain at the club for the upcoming season, and he belatedly made his first pre-season appearance in the weekend’s 1-1 friendly draw with Rayo Vallecano having missed United’s tour of Thailand and Australia for “family reasons”.
Although Ronaldo led all scorers with 24 goals in all competitions last season, there are still those supporters who want him out because they believe it will be difficult for new manager Ten Hag to implement a pressing-heavy style of play with him in the lineup.
Armas, who last season worked with Rangnick at the club, is certain that Ronaldo has a lot to offer.
“It’s a hands-on approach, speaking with him, bringing him into the office, asking him questions, so he’s part of the solutions and part of the success,” he told Sky Sports when asked how to maximise Ronaldo’s impacts.
“It was my job to work out how to get all that fire, experience and talent and challenge him as much as I could. I think the most important thing is to engage with Cristiano.
“He’s got so much to give, his commitment to winning and scoring, each guy has their different type of leadership. He can be a leader in his way, and my goal like everyone in the squad was to say how can I get the most out of Cristiano.
“When you talk about, at the highest level, seeing a professional and what winning means to Ronaldo, what scoring goals mean to him – he’s on the team, a big part of the team and he’s a guy who produced.”
In the end, a disappointing United reached new lows as they finished with their lowest Premier League point total (58) and failed to have a positive goal differential for the first time in the top division in more than 30 years.
Armas came in with Rangnick when United were attempting to steady the ship following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who paid the price for a rocky start to the campaign.
Rarely were United impressive on the pitch, and issues relating to their performances were exacerbated by leaks to the media, reports of player unrest and generally what Armas considered “noise”.
For all the criticism aimed at Rangnick and his team, Armas believes United were effectively on track for a top-four finish until Champions League elimination by Atletico in March derailed their season.
“People who know me know what I care about and how much I value the team. What happens on the inside, as we say,” he continued.
“When things are trying to penetrate and negativity is coming from the outside – to be honest, a lot of it was untrue. Who’s to say what’s true and not, but I can tell you a lot of it was untrue, and that it does create negativity. For those players, and myself included, you can’t listen to the noise.
“We were trying to become a team, it’s always a process but at Manchester United, at the time we arrived, all of us were trying to come together.
“I think Ralf did a really good job of stabilising things when we got there. You realise what a challenge it was, but after the Champions League exit, not getting the result at home, you can see the air got sucked out a little bit in what we were doing. Then it becomes difficult.
“Did we really move the needle, in the end? We wanted to finish in the top four and play a small part in that, it’s disappointing in the end but overall it was an incredible experience for me.”
United begin the new season at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.