Cristiano Ronaldo shrugs off Erik Ten Hag’s instructions before being substituted at end of half

TNN Bureau. Updated: 8/1/2022 1:53:07 PM Sports and Culture

On his Instagram, Cristiano Ronaldo had announced “Sunday, the king plays.”

On Sunday, the King’s return to Old Trafford in a Manchester United jersey under new manager Eric Ten Hag saw the Portuguese striker play for a mere 45 minutes against Rayo Vallecano in a friendly before being substituted for Amad Diallo, who immediately scored his team’s lone goal of the game.

Before half-time, footage captured Ten Hag talking animatedly towards Ronaldo but was met with a shrug and a walk off from Ronaldo. After being substituted a few minutes later, he was pictured outside the stadium making his way out, despite the friendly with Vallecano still going on. Whether he had clearance from Ten Hag to do so, is unclear.

In the Manchester United pre-season tour that has travelled through Thailand, Australia and Norway, Ten Hag has focused on increased pressing higher up the field – especially by United’s fast attackers – coupled with creating numerical imbalances in certain parts of the pitch.

Ronaldo’s playing style, especially one that focuses mostly with his back towards his own goal and next to no defensive work, was acceptable at Real Madrid and Juventus when he was scoring goals aplenty but at United, especially in a league currently as competitive as the Premier League, Ronaldo stands out like a sore thumb.

In his first game of the season, albeit a friendly, aspects of Ronaldo’s game – lauded for so long – are now the very things holding him back. No longer able to produce 40-goal seasons, the space that he demands to own on the pitch, especially the left and centre halves of the pitch, essentially curtail his own teammates from flourishing and allow the opposition an easier way to defend their own space.

This summer has seen Ronaldo search for a new club to play Champions League football in. His agent Jorge Mendes has spent most of this time trying to sell his client to Champions League teams from all corners of Europe, while simultaneously imploring United to let him leave. But at 37, Ronaldo’s powers have waned to some extent and teams are starting to understand that his signing would be a liability rather than a prized opportunity.

Despite scoring over 20 goals last season, Ronaldo’s arrival meant that United, who had come second in the league the season prior after scoring 122 goals across all competitions, dropped their overall goal total by a staggering 52 goals. Enough to not win a single trophy, crash out of the Champions League (a major reason why Ronaldo was brought back) and eventually not even making the Champions League for this season.

The lack of Champions League has been seen as the reason for Ronaldo asking for an exit all summer, but the reluctance of other clubs have been telling. German champion Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn, when asked about a possible Ronaldo move said, “As highly as I rate Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the greatest, a transfer wouldn’t be a fit with our philosophy.”

Atletico Madrid fans held banners and wrote letters stating that Ronaldo was unwelcome at their club after there were rumours that the club was looking to bring the striker in.

“The aforementioned player represents the antithesis of the values that constitute the hallmarks of our Atleti, such as the effort, generosity, modesty and humility of those who want to defend our values,” Atletico’s International Union of Fan Clubs said in a statement.

They then added, “Even in the highly unlikely hypothetical case that a player in steep decline such as Cristiano Ronaldo could guarantee us a trophy, we wouldn’t accept his signing. The sense of being a part of our Atletico feeling isn’t within his reach, unfortunately for him, and as such he could never receive our affection or recognition.”

Comment on this Story

Search Fom Archive in This Category