Manchester United must continue to follow Erik ten Hag’s lead and offload Cristiano Ronaldo in the next couple of months to prevent a domino-effect leading to all-too-familiar embarrassment. Ronaldo has burnt bridges with his manager and the club with an explosive 90-minute interview with Piers Morgan and now must be shown the exit door.
According to The Times, Ten Hag doesn’t want Ronaldo to play for United again and has made his stance clear to club owner Joel Glazer, chief executive Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough. And although the hierarchy is in agreement, it is easier said than done to get rid of the 37-year-old and his £500,000-a-week contract.
United are holding off their action on Ronaldo until they have seen the entire interview, which is set to be published on Wednesday and Thursday. The Red Devils are in talks with legal representatives over his comments, with the potential view of terminating his contract.
As one door closes, another opens, and 18-year-old sensation Alejandro Garnacho has taken his opportunities for game time with aplomb. His latest performances, helping United to wins against Aston Villa and Fulham, have led to many supporters clamouring for him to replace Ronaldo as the club’s No 7 in the new year.
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However, if United fulfil Ten Hag’s desire to remove Ronaldo from the picture, they must also provide him with the attacking reinforcements he wants. The Dutchman’s need for a new striker has become clear in the first third of his maiden season in charge, and given Ronaldo’s situation, plans to recruit one next summer must be brought forward.
While Garnacho has learned from punishment for his attitude issues in pre-season, it would be an overwhelming test of his character if he’s handed such an iconic shirt number as a teenager. Adnan Januzaj and Mason Greenwood’s United promising careers shattered after inheriting the No 11 shirt for flaws in attitude on and off the pitch.
The club must learn from their mistakes and keep Garnacho’s feet on the ground to reduce the risk of further humiliation.
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It’s become increasingly likely that the Red Devils will sign a new starting striker in January, with Dusan Vlahovic and Benjamin Sesko understood to be near the top of Ten Hag’s wishlist. If they lure one to Old Trafford, it would be wise to present them with the No 7 or No 11 and let Garnacho work his way up to such a prestigious honour.
Ten Hag has publicly insisted that United are taking the Argentine winger’s development steadily, despite his recent impact, so it would be a surprise if he swapped the No 49 so early into his senior career. And he can knuckle down that stance by quickly taking the No 7 off the table after Ronaldo’s expected departure.
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