Ten Hag offers Ronaldo Man Utd olive branch as boss addresses ugly stat exposed by Erling Haaland

Cristiano Ronaldo speaks to manager Erik ten Hag during a training session at the Aon Training Complex, Greater Manchester Credit: Alamy
Cristiano Ronaldo speaks to manager Erik ten Hag during a training session at the Aon Training Complex, Greater Manchester Credit: Alamy

Erik ten Hag insists it will take time to fully implement his game plan at Manchester United after addressing questions about their lack of goals this season and the prospects of Cristiano Ronaldo being afforded further chances to impress.

The new era at United is now well and truly in full swing after a turgid campaign last time out. The Red Devils sit fifth in the Premier League, and also have a great chance of topping their Europa League group after a convincing win over FC Sheriff. Indeed, under Ten Hag, the ever-improving United now have 10 wins in their last 14 games in all competitions.

That represents some semblance of progress already under Ten Hag. And the rebuilding work looks set to continue in January amid reports that a £52m deal for an upcoming star has been signed off by the United boss.

However, despite signs of progress under Ten Hag, it has not been a bed or roses so far.

The Dutch coach has already seen his appointment questioned in the wake of two ugly defeats in their first two outings of the season. And while Ten Hag and his players soon addressed their issues to see off Liverpool, an ongoing issue with Ronaldo has seen further storm clouds gather.

In addition, United still do need to add more goals to their game. While they are well placed to challenge for the top-four again, they have only managed 16 goals in their opening 11 Premier League games. That means, as a combined unit, they are collectively one goal behind Erling Haaland’s Premier League total so far for Manchester City.

Ten Hag offers Anthony Martial injury update

Ten Hag, though, is adamant it will take time for his ideas to bed in.

“To develop the team takes time,” the United boss said. “You can’t go from zero to 100.

“You have to construct it from downstairs – you need the fundament before you go to the top, to the roof.

“Unfortunately it takes time and I don’t have time. I’m really the most impatient, but I have to (be patient). It’s quite clear.

“Now, I think we’re getting better in defending with 11. I think players are more and more aware of it, that we have to do it with 11. Also our build-up, I think we’re improving from game to game.

“So, now we have to do also more on developing our attacking game but also that’s the most difficult part so it takes even more time.

“But you can’t increase the tempo of that process. I want it but we have to take the time for it.”

One man who will help their attacking cause is Anthony Martial. The Frenchman has only featured in four games this season, but Ten Hag hopes he can return soon and may yet make the France squad for the World Cup.

“I hope (he can play before the World Cup) but he’s making progress,” Ten Hag said.

“He’s outside, he’s working there. He’s on the pitch so we are waiting for his step back in team training.

“He had a setback as he fell out against Everton with his back. He’s had some injuries. It was really frustrating for us but also for him. We’ve seen he played good in pre-season.

“He’s had less minutes but he’s scored already three goals. Against Everton, he had an important role with the first goal, his assist for Antony.

“It would be really good to have him back because he can make the difference. He can score goals, but also linking up he’s really important and the pressing from him is really good.”

Ten Hag drops Cristiano Ronaldo hint

Last season’s top goalscorer was Ronaldo with 24 goals. He was back in the squad and back among the goals on Thursday night after losing his cool after failing to come on during the recent win over Tottenham. To that end, Paul Scholes has plenty of sympathy for the veteran Portuguese star.

His goal against Moldovans Sheriff takes his tally up to three for the season. However, he has only started twice in the Premier League, with five outings in total in the Europa League.

Ten Hag, however, denies that Ronaldo is considered more a ‘Europa League player’ and has indicated the star may well receive more chances as the season progresses.

“I don’t have a Europe team and I don’t have a Premier League team,” Ten Hag added. “I look to the opponent, what we need against such opponent. Now I have to focus on West Ham United for Sunday.

“Then we will pick the team to start but also to have plan B or plan C in the pocket to win that game.

“That’s what we need finally, to win games, and therefore we not only need 11 players, we need the whole squad.”

Asked if Ronaldo could yet reach the scoring heights of last season, Ten Hag added: “It’s up to him.

“But I think when you collect all the chances he creates, the team creates for him in the last weeks, you see he’s still capable to get in the right positions and I know he’s still capable of finishing them so it’s possible, yeah.”

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