Five reasons Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag would be better off without Cristiano Ronaldo next season

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Cristiano Ronaldo's fairy-tale return to Old Trafford was the biggest talking point of last year's summer window, but it didn't quite work out as intended for the Portuguese icon, despite him scoring 24 goals for Manchester United.

No silverware and no Champions League qualification have undone all of the club's progress in recent years, and now Erik ten Hag has been tasked with rebuilding the side and creating a long-term project of his own.

But is there space for Ronaldo in the Dutchman's plans? And would his project be better off without the 37-year-old? Manchester United fan Sean Fisher outlines five reasons why Ronaldo's sale this summer could benefit the Red Devils.

The age-old problem

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo gives a thumbs up after the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo gives a thumbs up after the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.

At 37 years old, it's no secret that Ronaldo is quickly approaching the end of his career, and a short-term solution is not what Manchester United need right now.

He guarantees any side 20-plus goals a season, but with just one year left on his contract, might it be better to integrate a younger striker into the team? That'll be the burning question for Erik ten Hag right now.

It seems highly unlikely that Ronaldo will stay at United past the 2022/23 season, with the former Sporting Lisbon player expected to return to Portugal once his contract expires.

Ten Hag needs to focus on the long-term, and keeping Ronaldo only prolongs the rebuilding process. Ronaldo's sale this summer would help put a stop to Manchester United's nostalgia, and help mark the start of a new era which focuses on building for the future rather than trying to relive their past success.

System malfunction

Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag

Anyone who has watched Erik ten Hag's Ajax side in recent years knows the Dutchman is very demanding of his players. High energy and a relentless press is central to Ten Hag's system, and Ronaldo simply can't follow those commands anymore. It's no fault of his own - at 37 he's hardly capable of pressing for a full 90 minutes every week. But it's a flaw that Ten Hag will be aware of, and it could tempt him to prioritise developing a young and hungry forward next season.

Ironically, Ralf Rangnick put it best: "A little bit of pressing is like a little bit pregnant, it's impossible".

Ronaldo's inability to press from the front stopped Rangnick from successfully implementing his tactics at United, and Ten Hag can't afford to make the same mistakes during his first season at Old Trafford.

From viewing Pep Guardiola's and Jurgen Klopp's sides over the last few years, it's becoming more and more evident that a clear and identifiable style of play is just as important as the players on the pitch - Ten Hag has to keep that in mind.

Leadership issues

Manchester United's Harry Maguire reacts following the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United's Harry Maguire reacts following the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Harry Maguire has come under huge criticism this season for his leadership of Manchester United during what has been a torrid campaign for the club.

The 29-year-old looked bogged down with expectation every time he threw on a red shirt, and looked overwhelmed when it came to leading a very confident and assured Ronaldo.

Perhaps Maguire isn't cut out for leading a dressing room full of characters, and perhaps a change is required at Old Trafford - but giving the captaincy to Ronaldo during his last year at the club would only be a step backwards.

United need a strong character to take charge of the side, and while Ronaldo does fit that bill, United need longevity and stability - something the Portuguese forward can't offer by staying for just one season.

Frankly, while Ronaldo stays in the dressing room - conversations over United's captaincy will continue to rumble on. It's another concern that Ten Hag needs to handle - and the best solution may be to show Ronaldo the exit.

Limiting a younger striker

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates scoring
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates scoring

With United expected to sell up to 10 players this summer, the club can expect a busy window of arrivals too. Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial are both on their way out of the club, leaving Ronaldo as the only natural striker in the side. With that in mind, Ten Hag will already be eyeing up reinforcements for his striking department, with a young forward expected to sign in the coming weeks. Darwin Nunez appears to be the No.1 target, with the Benfica forward thriving in a high-pressing system, scoring 32 goals in all competitions this season.

But Ronaldo won't be happy to sit on the bench and play second fiddle all season long. A player of his calibre demands frequent playing time, and he's already been seen throwing the toys out the pram when substituted.

There's no arguing that Ronaldo deserves to be the first-choice striker for a top football club, but whether or not he can possess that spot at United next season is up for debate.

Financial gain

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during the Champions League football match between Atletico de Madrid and Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during the Champions League football match between Atletico de Madrid and Manchester United

Should Ronaldo see out his Manchester United contract, then it's yet another key player the club will lose on a free transfer.

Of course, at 37 and with just one year remaining on his deal - Ronaldo won't demand much of a fee either way, but every little helps for Manchester United's rebuild this summer.

But more importantly than the transfer fee is Ronaldo's wages. His contract at Manchester United earns him a hefty £500,000-a-week, and that money could certainly be reinvested in long-term targets.

United won't challenge for the title next season, but it's a crucial year for Ten Hag to implement his ideas at the club. Sure, Ronaldo will bring in plenty of revenue through commercial deals, but Manchester United are a franchise that have been criticised for prioritising business over their footballing model over the last decade, and it's time to put an end to that this summer.

The article Five reasons Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag would be better off without Cristiano Ronaldo next season appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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