BREAKING: Erik ten Hag proved right after ignoring Sir Alex Ferguson’s dressing room advice
The current Manchester United manager has gone against the wishes of a former one as Erik ten Hag continues to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of his starting line-up
Erik ten Hag has managed to put a shocking start behind him and oversee a significant turnaround in form as Manchester United boss, with his side winning all of their last four league games.
In the process, the Dutchman has opted to ignore some words of wisdom from club legend Sir Alex Ferguson, who is of the belief a Red Devils manager “should always start with your best player.” That was what he was overheard telling UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov after a 1-1 home draw against Everton in October of last year.
At the time, United were led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the comments from Ferguson arguably undermined the then-United manager’s decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from the starting line-up. In the opening exchanges of Ten Hag’s reign, he has dropped the 37-year-old forward more times than he has started him.
In fact, under the ex-Ajax boss, Ronaldo has started just one Premier League game this term – the humiliating 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Brentford. The week prior, United were beaten 2-1 at home by Brighton in a clash that saw Ronaldo introduced early on in the second half as he failed to prevent his side from falling to defeat.
After that game, Ten Hag appeared to acknowledge he had made a mistake by dropping Ronaldo. “It is clear to see [that in] the second half we were better in midfield with [Christian] Eriksen down and Ronaldo up,” he said. “We created and [Marcus] Rashford had two good chances, it is a shame we did not score.”
However, since the disastrous display against the Bees in west London, Ronaldo has not played for more than 32 minutes in any of the four league victories that have followed. His longest run-out came against Arsenal, while he was granted 22 minutes in the games against Southampton and Leicester City.
Erik ten Hag has started Cristiano Ronaldo just once in the Premier League this season
HAVE YOUR SAY! Is Ten Hag right by choosing to not start Ronaldo? Comment below
Ronaldo has so often been a man for the biggest occasions, the kind of player to step up when it mattered most and net his side a vital winner. Therefore, it was a damning indictment of his United decline that he was offered just four minutes worth of playing time in the 2-1 win over Liverpool last month.
Rashford has been preferred centrally and filled the Ronaldo-shaped void in the bigger games, with all three of the England international’s goals coming against fellow big-six opposition after he netted the winner against Liverpool and a brace to beat Arsenal.
Given the form the 24-year-old forward now finds himself in, Ten Hag has little reason to tweak his side’s attacking set-up. The fact Rashford has been so important to this upturn in United’s fortune proves Ten Hag was right to ignore Ferguson’s advice to always start with your best player.