There are fresh fears Cristiano Ronaldo may have played his last match for Manchester United after Ralf Rangnick raised serious questions over his suitability in playing under Erik ten Hag.
The iconic Portugal superstar has seen questions raised on his future in recent months, despite scoring 24 goals this season. That’s a tally he will end the season on with injury denying him the chance to feature in the season’s finale at Crystal Palace. United are looking for a win that will guarantee sixth place and a spot in next season’s Europa League.
However, finishing sixth, or even seventh should West Ham usurp them, is clearly not good enough for Manchester United. Despite heavy investment last summer, they have badly under-performed this season. And now new manager, Ten Hag faces a huge rebuilding job at Old Trafford.
Indeed, reports claim as many as 12 players may depart Old Trafford this summer. Whether Ronaldo is one of them though is one that has divided fans and pundits alike.
Now in the veteran status, many believe Ronaldo’s work-rate is not suitable to the modern game. But the other argument that is United would have been lost this season with his imput, with many of his 24 goals proving to be decisive.
To that end, a report earlier this month claimed Ronaldo will accept whatever decision Ten Hag comes to. And if that means leaving Old Trafford, then so be it.
The Dutch coach has enjoyed great success at Ajax playing with a high-pressing game. But whether Ronaldo will be suitable to that system remains to be seen.
And in assessing the changes Ten Hag will make and United’s failures this season, Rangnick admits his side had many shortcomings.
“I agree we never came near to that aggressive, pro-active football. That has to do with physicality if we want to play like that. I’m more than self-critical. I should have done better. I expected that me and my coaching staff could have developed this team in a more sustainable kind of way,” he said in previewing the trip to Selhurst Park.
Rangnick admits tactics didn’t work
“We couldn’t and it’s not only the players who should be blamed, it should be ourselves. I am the one who is most disappointed about that and frustrated about that. At one stage we just had to find compromises – attacking a little bit deeper, how can we make sure that we get our offensive players into their positions?”
Turning his attention to Ronaldo, Rangnick insists he cannot be blamed. However, he admits the Portuguese’s style did not fit in well with what he’s been trying to implement.
“Cristiano scored a few goals but, again, Cristiano – and I’m not blaming him at all, he did great in those games – but he’s not a pressing monster. He’s not a player – even when he was a young player – who was crying, shouting ‘hooray, the other team has got the ball, where can we win balls?’
“And the same with quite a few other players so we had to make some compromises at one stage, maybe we made a few too many – that’s also possible.
“We never found the right balance between what do we need with the ball and without the ball. Even in possession of the ball, we didn’t create as many chances as we should have done.”
Ronaldo must consider Man Utd exit
If you were Ronaldo, would you actually wait around given all these criticisms on your game? At 37, he’s a player who has won it all. And does he really need the question marks over whether his talents are suited to United going forwards!
Quite simply, Manchester United would have been lost without his goals this season. And he has enjoyed an incredible career out of his talents and doing what he does best.
Granted, younger players would perhaps need to be more malleable and ready to change when a new coach comes in.
But given his age and the constant question marks being placed on him, Ronaldo may just be better packing his bags and playing somewhere where he will be appreciated.
Ronaldo can leave Man United this summer
Cristiano Ronaldo has been given the green light to leave Manchester United this summer.
And even at his age, there are likely some big clubs around who would surely appreciate what he can deliver.
He shows no signs of slowing up just yet. And Ronaldo is more than capable of scoring goals well into next season and beyond.
Ultimately that choice will come down to Ten Hag. However, the noises coming out of Old Trafford suggest time may be up for the player under the new regime.