Cristiano Ronaldo delivers the first big test for Erik ten Hag as Manchester United coach
David Moyes had to deal with Wayne Rooney’s desire to go out during his first summer in 2013, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faced his headache with Romelu Lukaku six years later. Any manager will tell you that the unstable star is among his worst nightmares and the reality is that players don’t come much bigger than Ronaldo. This is not an issue that can be forgotten under the rug.
The way Tin Hag deals with the situation will be as interesting as it is important and gives us early insight into his human management but there is no textbook in such cases. Questions about Ronaldo are likely to dominate his first press conference ahead of his first game against Liverpool in the Thai capital on Tuesday, when Tin Hag quickly discovers just how much interest the club and its most famous player have been, at least. In Asia where the hysteria that revives United can take some digestion. And the longer Ronaldo stays away, the more pressing questions will likely be received.
Former United captain Gary Neville immediately noticed a potential crisis when news first broke of Ronaldo’s desire to exit, but his calls for the club to tackle the matter quickly and decisively and not allow it to turn epic are easier said than done.
Ten Hag may be able to talk about Ronaldo’s run but it’s unlikely that a player will demand a move on a whim, and unless an acceptable bid is made to everyone quickly, this particular episode has the potential to run and run. Chelsea have an interest and Napoli have been linked but Ronaldo’s £40m-a-year wage would likely be a problem for any suitor, and even if United back down from their current position that the 37-year-old is not for sale, they will. Also order a transfer fee.