Ronaldo wanted to leave United this summer, after just one season back at Old Trafford, to play for a club that could offer Champions League football.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was unable to secure the move he wanted, but Erik ten Hag said he has spoken to Ronaldo, and is confident he will give his all for the final year of his United contract. “From the start, we said we planned with him,” said Ten Hag. “We’re happy with him, he’s happy to be here and we want to make the season a success together.”
Asked if he had spoken to Ronaldo about the 37-year-old’s situation, United boss Ten Hag said: “Several times, yes. We’re all on one page. The way of playing sets the demands. You can see in training that it’s clear that he has the capabilities. He will fit in because – I don’t have to explain. He’s such a great player. He will fit in every system or every style.”
Ten Hag was asked if Ronaldo – a sub for three of United’s four games this season – was receptive to his way of playing. “Yes, that’s clear,” said the United boss. That’s why we are talking, I said we are on one page. He knows what the demands are.” With United’s signing of Ajax forward Antony, Ronaldo is certain to play less this season, but Ten Hag said competition is vital for the team to succeed.
“It’s good that there’s competition,” said Ten Hag. “I think it’s natural in a top club – this situation has to be there. You have to push players to the highest levels. I’m sure the players are happy with it as well. We need players. You cannot cover all the games with the same players. You have to manage it. Who you need for certain games, to keep them fit and also to keep them in shape. Now we have that opportunity to choose and I’m lucky that we have that situation.”
HAVE YOUR SAY! Will Ronaldo knuckle down at Man Utd? Let us know in the comments section
Meanwhile, Ten Hag claims he is not under more pressure to succeed following the club’s record summer transfer spend. United’s capture of Antony and imminent loan signing of Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has taken their summer outlay to £231.1million. That is a record for United in a single season, but Ten Hag does not believe there is even more pressure on him after the board spent so much to strengthen his squad. As well as the £85.5m spent on Antony and a £5m loan fee for Dubravka, United splashed out £70m on Casemiero, £56m on Lisandro Martinez, £14.6m on Tyrell Malacia.
However, Ten Hag insisted the massive outlay was needed to give United a chance of being successful again and competing with Manchester City and Liverpool. He said: “All the top clubs spent a lot of money in the summer. That’s how the market has developed. I can’t do anything about it. Nobody can do anything about it. It’s the market. We have to accept it. If you want to compete at the top, you don’t have a choice. All the clubs spent this kind of money. If you want to fight for the top four positions, you have to do it. We have the ambition, especially in the long-term, to play for trophies. We had to do this, I think.”
Asked if the huge outlay put extra pressure on him, Ten Hag said: “No. I analysed the squad with a clear vision, but we were on one page from the first talks I had with the club. “They also saw the same – which positions we definitely had to strengthen. I’m happy in those positions, we analysed the squad and succeeded in filling in with quality players. With the process, we had more options in several positions. We’re really happy with the players we brought in, it gives us a good feeling. I think it’s a signal [of United’s ambition] but I think all the big clubs in the Premier League spent a lot in the market.”