Man United must learn from Cristiano Ronaldo's disastrous return

IAN LADYMAN: Man United must learn from the disaster of bringing back Cristiano Ronaldo now the signing has been shown for the gamble it was really was… the forward has ruined his legacy for ever after his desperate interview

  • Cristiano Ronaldo’s fairytale Old Trafford return has gone horribly wrong
  • Now Manchester United decision-makers must look to learn from their mistakes
  • United’s Ronaldo experiment has run it’s course after his bombshell interview
  • And manager Erik ten Hag is right to demand he is in charge over decisions 

Who was it who signed Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United the second time around?

Sir Alex Ferguson played a part in bringing him back to Old Trafford. So did former team-mate Rio Ferdinand. Both men spoke to Ronaldo the night before he agreed the move from Juventus at the start of last season.

Ed Woodward, outgoing chief executive at the time, also told people he had used his relationship with Jorge Mendes to get the deal done.

Cristiano Ronaldo secured his fairytale return to Man United last season but it has gone badly wrong

Then Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford

But what about manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Would he have chosen Ronaldo? Did he really think a 36-year-old with his physical powers on the wane would benefit his team? Was he even involved? The answer to all that is less clear.

Now that the Ronaldo experiment has been shown up for the great gamble that it really was, it is pertinent to consider all this. It is hoped that United — in its updated guise as a grown up football organisation — has realised the great folly of it all.

Ronaldo cut a rather desperate figure in his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan

Ronaldo cut a rather desperate figure sitting in that chair opposite Piers Morgan last week. He looked and sounded a little sad and has ruined his United legacy for ever.

But for United there is much to learn. They have already handed their new coach Erik ten Hag licence to choose the players he feels suits the way he wishes to play and that already seems a much better way for them.

Ronaldo has endured some memorable moments in a United shirt but doesn’t look set to return to the club after the World Cup

Sir Alex Ferguson (left) helped engineer Ronaldo’s return alongside Solskjaer (right) in 2021

The recruitment debate in English football is interesting. Some Premier League clubs like to follow the director of football model where they find the players and the manager simply coaches them. Others continue to do it the old fashioned way.

At Old Trafford Ten Hag has persuaded United to recruit heavily from his own country, the Netherlands.

Erik ten Hag’s relationship with Ronaldo looks to be over

The central defender Lisandro Martinez is Argentine but played for Ten Hag at Ajax. So did the Brazilian forward Antony while young defender Tyrell Malacia is Dutch and was recruited from Feyenoord. 

Not all of these players may prove to be successful in the long-term for United, even though each has started well for their new club.

But at least Ten Hag knows who and what they are. At least they have been recruited for the right reasons.

United went down this road with Louis van Gaal and it failed. Remember Bastian Schweinsteiger? That one didn’t work out so well. Anthony Martial, the striker, was one of Van Gaal’s also.

So there is risk attached but on balance United are right to put some trust in their manager’s judgement. At least he is signing footballers. 

Ferguson, Ferdinand and Woodward persuaded United to sign a memory in the August of 2021 and Solskjaer, Ralf Rangnick and now Ten Hag have all been left to rue the consequences.

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