Pundit slams Ten Hag for Man Utd tactic that ‘hurts his eyes’, despite role in improved fortunes

·4-min read
Erik ten Hag, Man Utd August 2022 Credit: PA Images
Erik ten Hag, Man Utd August 2022 Credit: PA Images

Erik ten Hag has been criticised for continuing to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for Manchester United, as a pundit says the decision ‘hurts his eyes’.

Ronaldo’s Manchester United future became uncertain when the club appointed Ten Hag in April. He didn’t actually take over until the end of last season, but those few months saw plenty of outlets link him with a move away from Old Trafford.

Ten Hag likes to play a pressing style of football, using attackers who work hard to win the ball back before breaking at speed.

Clearly, Ronaldo no longer fits into this category. And pressing has never really been his strong point, even when he was at his prime with Real Madrid.

Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, held talks with several major European clubs over a Manchester United exit in the summer.

But they all rejected the chance to sign the Portuguese, leaving him stuck under Ten Hag in Manchester.

Ronaldo came off the bench in United’s first match of the season, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to Brighton. He was in from the start in the following game against Brentford, though this ended in a surprise 4-0 loss.

Ronaldo has had to settle for substitute appearances ever since. Ten Hag has gone with Marcus Rashford at centre-forward, with Ronaldo’s compatriot Bruno Fernandes just behind him.

And the selection is working brilliantly. Rashford is looking like his old self and is already on three goals, as well as two assists, for the season. He only managed to find the net five times in the whole of last season, which shows he is back on the right path.

Fernandes is also finding some form, as he is linking up well with Christian Eriksen in midfield. Paul Scholes has lauded the Dane for his impact on the players around him.

Cristiano Ronaldo hit with ‘unexpected end’ to career

Despite Ten Hag’s tactics working, and United making it four straight league wins, former Netherlands player Wim Kieft has criticised their manager.

He is astonished by the fact Ronaldo, who has scored 698 goals in his illustrious career, is having to settle for a spot on the bench.

“It continues to hurt my eyes. Come on – an unexpected end to a great career,” he said (via Sport Witness).

Kieft added: “Is he on the bench because he’s so bad, or has he become such a d***?”

It is surprising Ronaldo has ended up out of the United first team after all he has done in his career. Plus, he was the club’s top scorer last season, registering 24 goals in all competitions.

However, Ten Hag knew from the start he didn’t want Ronaldo as his main striker. His system is just not compatible with the 37-year-old.

And the Dutchman is now reaping the rewards of going with Rashford instead. United appear to be on an upward curve and are now just three points off first-placed Arsenal, as they occupy fifth spot.

It is harsh for Kieft to blast Ten Hag for his decision. The coach has got to base his team selection on what is best for the club and squad, rather than what individual players such as Ronaldo want.

Ronaldo must understand manager’s decision

No matter what he has done in the past, Ronaldo must realise that United are currently better off without him in the starting lineup. And even though he is incredibly fit for a veteran player, eventually the young stars begin to overtake you.

It will be interesting to see which forward Ten Hag goes with for the Europa League clash with Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Rashford is in form and could add to his tally for the season. But Ronaldo has proven time and time again that he is one of the best performers in European competition.

It would probably be a good idea for Ten Hag to start Ronaldo in the match. This would prevent him from really starting to kick up a fuss about being a sub.

Meanwhile, Ajax’s manager and sporting director have ripped into Man Utd over the way they conducted their late move for Antony.

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