Erik Ten Hag reveals he HASN’T spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo since he asked to leave Manchester United


Erik ten Hag admits he still hasn’t spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo since the Manchester United star asked to leave the club, and doesn’t know when the player will return to training less than three weeks before the new season starts.

Ronaldo has missed United’s tour of Thailand and Australia, officially due to a family matter, after the club blocked his attempts to quit Old Trafford this summer.

Ten Hag backed the 37-year-old to be fit for the new campaign even though there has been no contact or indication when Ronaldo will report back for training.

Ronaldo is set to stay at Old Trafford for a second season after United insisted he is not for sale

Erik ten Hag admits he still hasn’t spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo since the Manchester United star asked to leave the club

The 37-year-old has missed their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia for family reasons

The 37-year-old has missed their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia for family reasons 

‘The same status as last week in Bangkok. No change,’ said the United boss in Melbourne yesterday (mon).

‘He is training. I think we all know Ronaldo is a top professional and he will be fit – that is the last concern I have.’

Despite Ronaldo’s absence, Ten Hag suggested building a team around the five time Ballon d’Or winner and backed him to cope with United’s high-pressing approach next season. 

‘I think Cristiano is capable of doing that. In his career he has shown everything,’ said Ten Hag.

Ten Hag insists Ronaldo will be fit for the new season due to the lack of indication when he will return

Ten Hag insists Ronaldo will be fit for the new season due to the lack of indication when he will return

‘I have set my demand. We want to play in a certain way. A top player can contribute and Ronaldo is an absolute top player in our squad.

‘The players dictate the way you play. Especially players who score goals because they are extremely important for a team. You construct your team around them.’

Ten Hag even claimed that an option to extend Ronaldo’s £500,000-a-week contract at United could be triggered to keep him at the club until 2024.

‘I am well informed, he also has an option, no? So, yes (Ronaldo could extend his stay),’ added the Dutchman.

Ten Hag meanwhile warned another senior member in his squad, Harry Maguire, that his decision to keep the England defender as Man United captain does not guarantee him a first-team place at Old Trafford.

Ten Hag warned Harry Maguire his decision to keep him as Man United captain does not guarantee him a first-team place

Ten Hag warned Harry Maguire his decision to keep him as Man United captain does not guarantee him a first-team place

Ten Hag has given Maguire a vote of confidence by letting him hold onto the armband, even though the 29-year-old struggled for form last season.

‘Harry is really impressive and I expect a lot from him,’ said Ten Hag. ‘I always see the captaincy as an issue that I dictate. 

‘The team building for me is an important point and I always talk about a group of leaders. The captain is a really important one and I’m happy with him.’

However, Lisandro Martinez’s £55.3million move to United from Ajax will put more pressure on Maguire, with Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof providing even more competition for places in central defence.

‘We have good centre-halves and Harry is one of them,’ added Ten Hag. ‘He can play on the left side and on the right because he is right-footed.

‘But there is also internal competition and that is what a club like Man United needs. You cannot win with 11 players. We need a squad, especially this season with so many games.

Lisandro Martinez's £55.3million move to United from Ajax will put more pressure on Maguire

Lisandro Martinez’s £55.3million move to United from Ajax will put more pressure on Maguire

‘I think he is (a first-choice player). He’s proved it in the past but he has also to prove it in the present and in the future. I will support him everywhere I can. In the end, he has to do it by himself, and he has the qualities to do it.’

At 5ft 9in, Martinez is small for a centre-back, particularly one coming to English football for the first time. But Ten Hag said: ‘I think he’s not the tallest but he is quite good in the air. 

‘I feel comfortable with that. Of course, you need the right balance. He has good timing, that’s one of his capabilities.

‘He also brings a South American aggressiveness, control and spirit to the team. I think it will fit really good to Manchester United and the way we play.

‘I analysed United last year in the left part of the defence. He is left-footed and that is an advantage in possession and defending. We are bringing him in to not strengthen the squad, but the team.’

Martinez is the third United signing this summer after Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia, with none having come as a result of direct negotiations with another Premier League club.

Ten Hag claims he would happily buy British but the cost of domestic players is inflated

 Ten Hag claims he would happily buy British but the cost of domestic players is inflated

Ten Hag however claims he would happily buy British but the cost of domestic players is inflated compared to foreign signings.

Feyenoord full-back Malacia cost £14.6m, while Eriksen was a free agent and Martinez is the £55.3m addition from Ten Hag’s old club Ajax.

United are also chasing Ajax winger Antony and Frenkie de Jong who played under Ten Hag at the Amsterdam club. United have a £71m deal in place with Barcelona for De Jong, but the deal has been complicated by the £17m he is owed by the Catalan club in deferred wages and the player’s reluctance to move to Old Trafford.

A pattern seems to be emerging under Ten Hag but the new United boss insists he would rather by English players if there was not a premium on homegrown talent.

‘I would like to sign English players because I think there is only one criteria and that’s quality in combination with the price,’ said Ten Hag. ‘It looks like English players are quite expensive. It’s a fact you cannot deny. In the end, it’s about quality.’

Christian Eriksen played for Brentford last term

Tyrell Malacia costs £14.6m

Feyenoord full-back Tyrell Malacia and free agent Christian Eriksen have also joined the club

Ten Hag was reluctant to discuss De Jong by name as protracted talks continue with Barcelona. United have other options, though, and the manager is ready to look elsewhere or stick with what he has if his No.1 target eludes him.

‘We are looking for a player who can playing in the holding midfield position, but it has to be the right one,’ said Ten Hag. ‘There are not many in that position capable of the level we demand.

‘We have a list and we will strike the moment the player is available. When we can’t find him, we have to deal with the players in our squad now and we will develop one in that position.’

It represents a busy first pre-season for ten Hag, who revealed he has spoken with Sir Alex Ferguson over his new job.

Ten Hag became the fifth permanent manager at Old Trafford since Ferguson retired in 2013 when he joined United from Ajax this summer.

Ajax forward Antony

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong

United are also chasing Ajax winger Antony and Frenkie de Jong who played under Ten Hag

The 52-year-old said: ‘I had contact with him but what we spoke is private. It is always a fantastic to talk with Sir Alex about life, but especially about football.’

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have all failed to match Ferguson’s success over the last nine years, but Ten Hag is confident that he is the man to reverse United’s fortunes.

‘I must say I have a strong belief,’ he said. ‘This is a big challenge but, until now, everywhere I’ve been I’ve got the maximum out of my teams. This project is the most difficult, I realise that. I know it’s not an easy job. But I am here, so I am convinced I can do it.’

Asked about his targets for the first season, Ten Hag was careful not to make any bold predictions about usurping Manchester City or Liverpool. ‘The first target is to win every game,’ he added. ‘That has to be our approach. That belongs to Man United.

‘We want to play proactive, attacking football where it’s possible. We want to play good, but if we don’t play good we still have to win.

Ten Hag has revealed he has spoken with legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson over his new job

Ten Hag has revealed he has spoken with legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson over his new job

‘I have a strategy. It’s a process, it takes time. But in the end we have to make sure from the outset there is a winning team.’

But while not making any bold claims about chasing the Premier League’s top two, Ten Hag has vowed to crack down on discipline at Old Trafford but wants the players to police themselves as well.

United’s new manager has introduced strict new rules regarding time-keeping, nutrition and alcohol consumption after taking over this summer.

‘When you want to get results, you need a team,’ he said. ‘It is organisation, co-operation, and also you need discipline. When there is no discipline around, you will not find it on the pitch as well.

Ten Hag has vowed to crack down on discipline but also wants the players to police themselves

Ten Hag has vowed to crack down on discipline but also wants the players to police themselves

‘I’m quite severe on such issues. I will tell every player what I expect of them. I have high standards because you are here, you are playing for Manchester United, then you must bring it every day on the pitch. Why are you not acting to your standards? That is an expectation I have.

‘I think we have done well. The players respond well to the demands we have. I set some standards, we introduce how we play, and I’m satisfied with that.’

Ten Hag isn’t averse to the odd half-time rant, saying: ‘It is a tool that a coach has. Most of the times it will go in a normal behaviour way. Sometimes you have to use all the set of tools you have.’

However, he is happy for United players to keep each other in line. ‘I think it is on the players themselves to also be severe to each other, because if they want to achieve success they have to stick together. Sometimes there is a need for correction.’



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