Man Utd players ‘encouraged’ by Erik ten Hag as boss deals with Cristiano Ronaldo drama

Erik ten Hag's first training session as Man Utd boss

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Manchester United players have reportedly been ‘encouraged’ by the start Erik ten Hag has made to his Old Trafford career. The Dutchman has been putting players through their paces as he seeks an improved campaign next time out. And he’s also masterminding a path to success at a time where Cristiano Ronaldo wants out.

Manchester United opted to hire Ten Hag over Mauricio Pochettino after the 52-year-old impressed John Murtough and Darren Fletcher during the interviewing process.

And the Telegraph say the Dutchman has already made a positive impact behind the scenes.

It’s claimed United squad members have been ‘encouraged’ by Ten Hag so far, with the 52-year-old determined to build a winning environment at Carrington.

The Dutchman welcomed back his senior players this week, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane among them.

Ten Hag will crank up his coaching while the club are away on their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.

But one player absent, with no return in sight, is Ronaldo.

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News broke last weekend that the 37-year-old wanted to leave United following their failure to qualify for the Champions League, having finished sixth last term.

Ronaldo did his part, scoring 24 goals across all competitions following his dramatic return from Juventus on transfer deadline day back in August.

But those goals weren’t enough to prevent United from falling to sixth and qualifying for the Europa League, instead of the Champions League.

Ronaldo hasn’t played in the former since it was the UEFA Cup, when he turned out for Sporting Lisbon in the competition.

Yet while he wants to leave United, the club are adamant he isn’t going anywhere due to the fact he’s still got a year left on his contract.

Chelsea are frontrunners in the race to land Ronaldo, especially after new Blues owner Todd Boehly recently talked about a deal with the forward’s agent, Jorge Mendes.


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But United don’t want to sell to a direct Premier League rival.

Bayern Munich have also been linked at a time where Robert Lewandowski is expected to leave the Allianz Arena amid interest from Barcelona.

However, the Bundesliga giants have distanced themselves from a potential transfer by insisting the veteran ‘doesn’t fit into their philosophy’.

Barcelona themselves have emerged as potential suitors for Ronaldo, too.

Yet the fact he previously spent nine years at Real Madrid, coupled with Barcelona’s financial issues, complicates any potential move to the Nou Camp.

Ronaldo is yet to train under Ten Hag at United, having been allowed some extra time off due to an ongoing family matter.

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And there’s no indication when he’ll jet out to join his team-mates as they prepare for their pre-season friendly with Liverpool.

Regarding Ronaldo, former United star Rio Ferdinand understands the forward’s desire to leave Old Trafford after less than a year back at the club.

“Anyone who wants to win football matches or trophies, anyone who is used to winning and competing every year at the top of the table for the biggest prizes, and then all of a sudden isn’t – and doesn’t even qualify for the Champions League – you can’t sit here and expect them to be happy,” he said.

“He’s not happy with missing out on the Champions League, he doesn’t even know what the Europa League soundtrack sounds like!

“When that comes on, he’s going to be thinking ‘what dance am I in here?’”

And he added: “I’ve been seeing people being a touch disrespectful, the way that people are questioning ‘he’s not here’ and the hysteria surrounding it.

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“A member of his family is not well, so he’s not at training.

“This is the most consummate, most professional athlete that we’ve seen on these shores. The most professional athlete we’ve seen for over 15 years and people are questioning this guy’s professionalism and why he’s not at the training ground.

“Yeah he might want to leave, he might not be happy with certain things at the football club, but in terms of professionalism, this guy is training where he is – we’ve seen the pictures.

“His family are there, he needs to be where they are and you have to respect that. Simple as.

“Could it have been communicated better by the club? Probably.”

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