EPL

Ten Hag backs Ronaldo to hit his stride after Man Utd star scores 700th club goal

By Sports Desk October 09, 2022

Erik ten Hag is confident Cristiano Ronaldo will hit his stride after scoring his 700th club goal – and his first of the 2022-23 Premier League season – in Sunday's 2-1 win at Everton.

Ronaldo had endured a frustrating campaign prior to his outing at Goodison Park, a ground on which he had never previously scored a Premier League goal, but he proved decisive after entering the fray in the first half. 

Antony cancelled out Alex Iwobi's opener before Ronaldo replaced the injured Anthony Martial, and the 37-year-old quickly made his mark by firing a left-footed finish beyond Jordan Pickford.

That strike was Ronaldo's 700th in club football and his 144th across two spells at Old Trafford, and ensured United bounced back from last week's derby thrashing by Manchester City.

Speaking at a post-match news conference, Ten Hag congratulated Ronaldo on his landmark and backed him to hit a rich vein of form in the coming weeks.

"That is really impressive, when you score 700 goals," Ten Hag said. "It's a huge performance, I'm really happy for him. 

"I congratulate him on that performance and I'm also happy it's his first goal this season in the Premier League. He had to wait for it and I'm sure there will be more goals.

"I think every player needs it, even when you are the best in the world, you need it, you need the goals.

"I worked with many goalscorers, especially them, they need goals in every season to have that feeling, to have the confirmation of their intuition. 

"Once they have some goals, they come in the flow and games go easier. That will happen with him as well."

United had lost eight of their previous 10 away league games ahead of their trip to Merseyside – including last Sunday's dismal loss at the Etihad Stadium, and Ten Hag was pleased with the improvements on display.

"First of all, criticism is normal when you have a defeat, especially in a big game, in a derby, so we have to deal with that and you learn lessons," Ten Hag added.

"In this moment, we collect the points, it's not looking at the table, we have to win every game – it's our aim. 

"We have to improve every game, we have to improve the process, we have to prepare every game 100 per cent and we demand from the players that in every game they give their best.

"You see in this game, the spirit is really good in the squad – it's not only the 11 players. 

"Again, a sub coming on and scoring a goal, you see Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Raphael Varane coming in, so we use more than 11 players and I am happy with that process."

United goalkeeper David De Gea also praised Ronaldo following the win, hailing him for maintaining a professional attitude despite starting just one league game under Ten Hag.

"He's never been in this situation before, but the way he works and trains, it's just unbelievable," De Gea told BT Sport. "It's not easy times for him, but he showed he's a great player."

With De Gea's United contract expiring at the end of the season – although the club has an option for an extra year – the Spaniard also revealed he would like to commit his future to the club.

"I'm just very focused on the games, helping the team as much as I can," he added. "Of course, I would like to be here for more years, so let's see what happens in the future. I'm really, really happy here."

Related items

  • Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals

    Gleison Bremer said his Juventus team-mates have pledged to ignore the Bianconeri's off-pitch woes after scoring the winner in Thursday's Coppa Italia quarter-final against Lazio.

    Bremer diverted Filip Kostic's cross home with a glancing header on the stroke of half-time as Juve clinched a 1-0 win over the Biancocelesti, teeing up a semi-final tie against Inter.

    The win provided welcome relief for a side sitting 13th in Serie A after being issued with a 15-point deduction last month, a sanction which has been compounded by a three-game winless run in the league. 

    Speaking after his goal sent Juve to their eighth Coppa Italia semi-final in nine seasons, Bremer admitted off-pitch issues had impacted the team in recent weeks, but revealed the squad's pledge to rediscover their focus.

    "I'm happy with this goal, but it was important to go through at this moment," the Brazil international told Mediaset.

    "We know we've played two games not up to par, but we talked to each other and what happens off the pitch cannot spill onto the pitch. The club will take care of it, we will take care of the pitch. 

    "Juventus are a top-level team, let's score as many points as possible and see where we'll be at end of the championship. 

    "At the beginning of the year we lost a little something, then we spoke and we found each other."

    Since the Coppa Italia quarter-finals became one-legged affairs in the 2008-09 season, Juve have won nine of their 10 such fixtures at home, the only exception being a 2011 defeat to Roma.

    Coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed Juve's mentality after the hard-fought victory, highlighting the improvements made since Sunday's shock defeat to Monza. 

    "The most important thing is the attitude, which was missing in the first half against Monza, where we conceded two easy goals," Allegri said.

    "The boys were good. They are responsible. They must understand that to win matches, in addition to tactics and technique, you need the right spirit. 

    "Today we won many tackles, we arrived first in duels, we defended well and played in an orderly and patient manner against good pressure from Lazio."

    Juventus were without Paul Pogba for Thursday's win, with the midfielder seeing his second debut for the club delayed once more after suffering another minor injury.

    Allegri does not expect him to return against Salernitana on Tuesday, saying: "Pogba is unlikely to be available in Salerno, because he's been doing little or nothing for a week. We hope to have him back as soon as possible because he's a player we count on. 

    "I've been in the world of football for 50 years. When things go against you, then you have to be patient to get out of it."

  • Courtois: We must protect Vinicius Courtois: We must protect Vinicius

    Thibaut Courtois declared Vinicius Jr needs to be protected after he was on the receiving end of a horrendous challenge from Gabriel Paulista on Thursday.

    The Brazilian defender kicked out at his compatriot, who had doubled Real Madrid's lead against Valencia to mark his 200th club appearance in style.

    Los Blancos emerged 2-0 victors at Santiago Bernabeu to edge closer to leaders Barcelona, yet it was the challenge on Vinicius that left the biggest impression.

    Courtois questioned why Vinicius was subject to such treatment, but praised the referee for taking the appropriate action.

    "I don't know why he was kicked in that way, we need to protect him," he told LaLigaTV.

    "He's a player who dribbles a lot, tries to go past defenders and defenders don't like it. It's the way he is as a player.

    "We need him to be that way, we need him to be like that against defenders.

    "He receives a lot of kicks and tonight I'm just happy the referee acted and had the bravery to give the red card. The ball is not there, there's no intent to get the ball.

    "Even if it was one of us had made that challenge then I would have said yes, it has to be a red card."

  • Benfica president Costa 'will not cry' for Fernandez after World Cup winner forced Chelsea move Benfica president Costa 'will not cry' for Fernandez after World Cup winner forced Chelsea move

    Benfica president Rui Costa has no regrets over sanctioning Enzo Fernandez's record-breaking move to Chelsea, saying the World Cup winner forced the transfer through his desire to leave.

    Chelsea made Fernandez the most expensive acquisition in Premier League history on the final day of the January transfer window, meeting the £106.8million (€121m) release clause in his Benfica contract.

    While Fernandez's arrival took Chelsea's spending to a reported £288.5m in January alone, the fee surpassed the £100m Manchester City spent to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in 2021.

    Benfica coach Roger Schmidt said Fernandez was unsettled by Chelsea's interest earlier in the month, and Costa admits the player's desire to leave left the Lisbon giants powerless.

    "Everything was done to ensure that Enzo was not sold. I have a clear conscience and I am as sad as any Benfica fan," Costa told BTV on Thursday.

    "We tried everything. Enzo has always shown a desire not to stay at Benfica.

    "As a fan, I no longer wanted Enzo as a player. As president, he could not continue. I decided he had to leave.

    "Commitment to Benfica is not beating your chest. In Arouca [a 3-0 win on Tuesday] we played without Enzo. 

    "We lost a great player, but I will not cry for a player who did not want to stay at Benfica. I was raised at Benfica, knowing how to honour Benfica.

    "Respecting Enzo, he is free to choose and the choice was not to stay at Benfica. At Benfica, there will only be players who are proud to be here."

    Costa questioned Fernandez's unwillingness to remain in Portugal until the end of the season, saying any suitors would have waited for the 22-year-old.

    "Was Enzo going to lose value until the end of the season at Benfica? No," he continued. 

    "We tried to show him that if he stayed at Benfica until the end of the season, Chelsea and others would appear."

    While the last-minute nature of Fernandez's exit left Benfica unable to sign a replacement, Costa was ultimately pleased with the structure of the deal.

    Asked about Fernandez's record-breaking fee, Costa said: "It's in instalments. The value of the clause doesn't have to be paid upfront.

    "We reached what we wanted and came out five million above the clause. It was not by chance that this deal ran out of time, we did everything to keep Enzo."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.