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Cristiano Ronaldo might have to get used to life as a substitute

Ten Hag's tactical system does not rely on individual brilliance

by Ayantan Chowdhury

Manchester United have scripted a remarkable turnaround in their Premier League form after starting the season with back-to-back humiliating defeats against Brighton and Brentford.

Erik ten Hag deserves credit for the upturn in form as he changed personnel and made tactical tweaks which have led to United getting the better of arch-rivals Liverpool and table toppers Arsenal.

In the four matches since the Brentford thrashing, the Red Devils have scored seven while conceding only twice.

Ronaldo on his way out?

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Ten Hag’s new system has been Marcus Rashford. The Mancunian has been deployed as the focal point of the attack and he has repaid the manager’s faith with three goals and two assists.

Cristiano Ronaldo has managed only one league start so far and is yet to open his account for the season. He has looked off the pace, which is expected because he missed pre-season due to personal reasons.

The Sun have explosively claimed that “Manchester United stars believe Cristiano Ronaldo is still angling for a move – and has his eye on a January exit.”

It is no secret that the Portuguese striker wanted to leave in the summer transfer window for a club in the Champions League. But despite his agent Jorge Mendes’ best attempts, no club came forward.

His display in United’s loss to Real Sociedad in their Europa League opener showed that age might finally be catching up with the 37-year-old.

Too often he dropped deep in search if the ball and without a focal point, the players struggled to penetrate Sociedad’s defence.

And most of the squad feel that he is tactically not ready to lead the line for United with the players preferring Rashford in that position.

CR7 does not match ETH’s vision

“The manager put a lot of work into giving the squad detailed information about what he wanted them to do and how he wanted them to play. Ronaldo is not up to speed with that and is relying on instinct when he plays. But that doesn’t work in Ten Hag’s system,” sources told the publication.

And one of the most damning verdicts to come out from the article was the fact that Ten Hag sees him as an impact substitute rather than a starter.

Ronaldo has always thrived because of his often selfish desire for goals and that is not going to work under the former Ajax boss as he seeks to build a team capable of following his instructions.

“Ronaldo is likely to find himself on the bench again going forward. And he is going to have to get used to scoring a lot less goals because he is only being introduced towards the end of games when Ten Hag has already made changes which make United less attacking.

“He needs to realise it’s only going to work if he tunes into ten Hag’s plans.”

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