Manchester United: Erik ten Hag keen to work with ‘giant’ Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United’s incoming manager Erik ten Hag is set to start work immediately, revealing in an interview he officially starts his employment with the club Monday 16 May.

Ten Hag and his Ajax side wrapped up the Eredivisie title again this season and his final game in charge was the 2-2 draw at Vitesse just one day earlier, meaning an immediate switch of focus from the talented youngsters at his disposal in Amsterdam, to a bloated and massively underperforming one in the northwest of England.

While much speculation surrounds the futures of the likes of Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani and others, one of the big questions has been over whether the new man in the hot-seat would have room in the team, or more pertinently in his tactics, for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 37-year-old has scored 24 times this season after returning from Juventus last summer, but has been criticised at times for making the team one-dimensional, having to be accommodated from a defensive perspective and failing to adapt to a pressing role.

However, in an interview with De Telegraaf, Ten Hag insisted he was set to make the Portuguese forward a big part of the team – though hadn’t yet decided exactly how he would be best-utilised.

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“I am looking forward to working with him. Ronaldo is a giant, because of what he has already shown, and I think he is still very ambitious. Of course I want to keep him in,” he confirmed.

“He has been very important for Manchester United this year and can show great statistics.

“From [Monday], my focus will be on United, and I will of course get deep into things there. What I have to say about it is, the detailed analysis still has to begin, I still have to work with the team, but let me be clear that at United there are a lot of good players around.

“We have to make them function as a team but definitely Ronaldo, he is a giant.”

Ten Hag also confirmed that he had not yet finalised who would be working around him and that it would take time to fashion the side to challenge at the top.

“Among other things, the filling of the staff and the composition of the team selection. I will make my mark and that must be done extremely carefully.”

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While Ten Hag is now moving onto United matters, Ralf Rangnick will remain in charge of the first team until the end of the season and the Dutchman is not expected in Manchester this week.

Manchester United will face Liverpool and Crystal Palace in their pre-season schedule ahead of the 2022/23 season, giving Ten Hag an early chance to see how his squad compares to some domestic opponents.

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