Cristiano Ronaldo has been warned he’ll have to follow Erik ten Hag’s blueprint for Manchester United – or else.
The sulky Portuguese star has found himself on the outside, looking in, after the Dutchman turned around the club’s early-season woes following three straight wins.
After the closure of the transfer window last Thursday, speculation surrounding the 38-year-old’s future finally stopped. He will be staying put – at least until January – but ten Hag, when quizzed about what next for the five-time Ballon D’Or winner, would not give any guarantees.
He said: “As we said, Ronaldo is here. And, as we all know, he didn’t have a pre-season. You cannot miss pre-season. It’s a base. Especially with the game we play, the way we want to play.
“We don’t play in the same way we did last year, there is no comparison. This demands cooperation and it demands certain positioning in – and out – of possession. The other thing is his fitness.
“But it’s still early in the season. We have a squad. We have more than 11 players – and that’s what you’re seeing now.”
Ronaldo has started just one of five Premier League games so far this season with Ten Hag favouring a front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga and Jadon Sancho for the win over Leicester last time out.
The latter netted the only goal of the game in the Red Devils’ victory, with Ten Hag saying of the Englishman: “I am really happy for Jadon Sancho. He scored many in pre-season and put a low of investment in, but now he is getting his rewards.
“He had quite a good pre-season, he understands he has to invest physically, (and) that’s what he did. This is just the start for him. With his potential, there is much more room for improvement. He can be even more important.”