EPL

Rangnick admits Man Utd hero Ronaldo is 'a challenge' to manage

By Sports Desk March 12, 2022

Ralf Rangnick admitted it is "a challenge" to manage Cristiano Ronaldo after he savoured the Manchester United striker's hat-trick in Saturday's 3-2 win against Tottenham.

Ronaldo gave United the lead on three occasions, and they eventually managed to cling on after a thumping header from the 37-year-old in the 81st minute again tilted the game the way of the hosts.

He struck an opener from 25 yards, sprinted to get on the end of Jadon Sancho's cross for his second, and delivered a performance that left Ronaldo's admirers purring in appreciation.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was imperious, but it has not always been that way during his first season back at Old Trafford.

Before this game, Ronaldo had just one Premier League goal in 2022, and there have been questions raised about whether he will remain a United player next season.

Rangnick was asked about what it takes to manage such a superstar figure, who reached 807 career goals on the way to sinking Antonio Conte's visitors, who twice equalised through a Harry Kane penalty and Harry Maguire own goal.

"It is challenging, and it is a challenge with a player like him," the United interim manager told Sky Sports. "But he showed today that he's still got the quality to play for a club like Manchester United.

"But he's also a part of the team and if we want to be successful at the end of the season, we can only do it together."

Ronaldo missed the Manchester derby last week with a hip flexor injury. Former United captain Roy Keane was among those who asked whether there was perhaps more behind Ronaldo being sidelined for that game, a suspicion Rangnick has denied.

The German was floored by how good Ronaldo was against Tottenham, a real throwback to his peak years at Real Madrid.

"At least since I arrived, his best performance," Rangnick said. "Not only because he scored three goals, two brilliant goals... he was also energetically good.

"He was part of the whole team when we had to defend, and we had to defend a lot. Top performance by him, but also by the rest of the team."

There is a theory that Ronaldo is now the world's all-time record scorer, overtaking Josef Bican, an Austrian-Czech who was prolific in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Official records from that time can be difficult to ratify, and Czech FA experts have previously put Bican's figure at 821 goals rather than the often-stated figure of 805.

Rangnick is more concerned with what Ronaldo is achieving in the present day.

"I didn't expect him to score three goals, but I expected him to score, that's why I decided to play him even though he only resumed training on Thursday," Rangnick said.

"His training session on Thursday was so good, that's why I [decided to] bring him from the start and not have him on the bench, and in the end, it was the right decision.

"He didn't train for a week, and I wasn't sure if his hip flexor was good enough to let him play.

"I had a conversation with him before the training session on Friday, and he told me that he's fully fit and he can play, and that's why he started."

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