Ten Hag picks out Man Utd trio for praise after Europa League win; doubles down on Cristiano Ronaldo stance

Erik ten Hag, Man Utd August 2022

Erik ten Hag praised three Manchester United players and confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo is ‘totally committed’ to the club following their away victory over Sheriff Tiraspol.

The Red Devils faced Sheriff, who play in Moldova’s top flight, in the Europa League on Thursday night. And they ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo.

Sancho put Manchester United in front in the 17th minute with a left-footed drive into the far corner, which went in off the post. Later on in the first half, Diogo Dalot won a penalty after being tripped in the box.

Ronaldo stepped up and beat the goalkeeper to register his first goal of the campaign. It was also the Portuguese’s 699th club goal, though he couldn’t get his 700th as he was taken off in the 81st minute.

Sheriff had no answer to United’s goals, and this meant the Manchester outfit picked up their first three points of the Europa League group stage. This was a necessity after the defeat to Real Sociedad in the UEL opener.

During a post-match interview with MUTV, Ten Hag was asked about Sancho. He praised the Englishman for his start to the season and for how he linked up with Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen against Sheriff.

“Jadon has so much potential,” Ten Hag said (via Manchester Evening News). “He had a good pre-season, he’s on his way to getting really fit, he has to keep going with the process.

“The second thing is he scores a lot of goals in pre-season, he continues in the moment in the season, he’s more secure, we can play over him, that left side with Tyrell and Christian Eriksen, I was happy with that triangle and how they moved together.”

Ten Hag reacts to Sancho’s England snub

Ten Hag was then asked about Sancho being left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for the upcoming England matches. He replied: “It’s not up to me, it’s the manager of England. I cannot be in his seat, I don’t want to do it.”

On the wider team, he added: “They are progressing, they are starting the season well, they will progress even more, I am convinced of that. They will progress even more in the coming weeks and months.”

Attention then turned to Ronaldo, whose future continues to be a hot topic. According to a recent report, Ten Hag’s January transfer budget will rise to over £100million if the striker leaves. However, Ten Hag has doubled down on the club’s firm stance.

“He’s totally committed to this project, totally committed to this team, totally involved,” the coach said. “He also has connections that are coming around him and he is constructing connections so I’m happy with that.”

Manager backs Ronaldo to improve

On Ronaldo’s slow start to the new campaign, Ten Hag continued: “We could expect this when you miss pre-season. He has to work really hard and invest to get the right fitness. He will score more goals. He’s really close, when he gets more fitness he will score more.”

Centre-back Lisandro Martinez said: “We got the three points, so it was very important for us.

“We work very hard every day in training, so today Sancho scored a fantastic goal, but how we played was fantastic. Sancho’s finish was great and in the end, we all celebrate.

“We know how big Cristiano Ronaldo is. He is very important for us and that he scored tonight, for his confidence and for the team.

“I’m really happy and a little bit surprised with that [the love from fans], but at the same time I feel very proud.

“To come here to the best club in the world and the people say ‘Argentina, Argentina’, for me it’s amazing. Thanks to the fans for their support.”

Meanwhile, Sancho has issued a response after Southgate snubbed him for national team duty.