EPL

Ten Hag must 'engage' with Ronaldo to keep him happy at Man Utd, says Rangnick's former assistant

By Sports Desk August 03, 2022

Erik ten Hag needs to "engage" with Cristiano Ronaldo and seek his input if he is to keep the Portuguese superstar happy at Manchester United, according to Ralf Rangnick's former assistant Chris Armas.

Ronaldo is reportedly eager to leave Old Trafford once again after United failed to qualify for the Champions League last season.

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".

There are certainly those in the fanbase who are keen for Ronaldo to leave as well, despite him top scoring with 24 goals across all competitions last term, as there is a perception his presence will inhibit new manager Ten Hag developing a style of play that requires intense pressing.

But Armas, who assisted Rangnick at the club last season, is adamant Ronaldo has a lot to give.

"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."

The 2021-22 season ended up seeing a disappointing United plumb new depths, as they recorded their lowest Premier League points total (58) and failed to record a positive goal difference for the first time in over 30 years in the top flight.

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.

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