Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag should not drop Cristiano Ronaldo when he takes over at Old Trafford, said his fellow Dutchman Marco van Basten – who believes his goal threat makes him too valuable to leave out.
Ten Hag – currently at Ajax – was announced as the new man in the dugout last week after a long search for a permanent successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Ralf Rangnick serving as interim boss for the remainder of the season.
He will no doubt be carving out his plans for a tough season. Tactics, line-ups and new players on his mind and the future of Ronaldo will be a hot topic after heavy debate this season over whether he serves the greater good of the team.
Ronaldo is the club’s top scorer this season with 22 goals from 35 games, but has received criticism for storming off the pitch following defeats and attracting negative attention. He came under fire this month for slapping a mobile phone out of a young Everton fan’s hand following their 1-0 loss at Goodison Park.
But AC Milan icon Van Basten said Ten Hag should keep faith with Ronaldo should he continue his rich vein of goal-scoring form next season.
“If Ronaldo carries on playing like he did last week [against Norwich] and scores two or three goals in a match on a regular basis, there is no need to take him out of the team,” Van Basten told The Rondo Show, via Goal.
“Ronaldo is a player who does his own thing, but as long as he delivers, you have to give him a place in the team.
“Ten Hag will take into account that he cannot ask the same things physically from Cristiano Ronaldo that he will be asking of an 18-year-old.
“Of course Ronaldo will need to work hard – but I am sure he will work hard because I can see Ten Hag having an influence on him to get him to play how he wants.”
It has been a tough season for Ronaldo. Not only have United suffered a turbulent time on the pitch since his fairy-tale return, but the Portugal forward has been dealing with tragedy after the death his new-born baby girl last week – which saw him miss the 4-0 loss against Liverpool.
His place in the United team will be one of the biggest question marks this season as Ten Hag plots to guide the club back to the big time, with the Red Devils on course to miss out on Champions League football once again.
Ten Hag has been receiving plenty of advice from football pundits and former Manchester United stars ahead of his big switch to Old Trafford, but van Basten – who won the 1988 European Championships with Holland and played 205 times for AC Milan – has told him to stick to his guns rather than listen to the media.
“I will give Erik one piece of advice: don’t listen to the media when you start there,” he added. “He will have such a massive focus on his own job, on his work on the training ground and on the team. And when he does that, I am sure he can change everything at United.”