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Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United striker ‘very happy’ to stay at Old Trafford despite poor season | News from the transfer center

Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted he is “very happy” to stay at Old Trafford and believes Manchester United will bounce back from a terrible 2021/22 season under new manager Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo returned to United last summer, 12 years after originally leaving the club for Real Madrid, and has scored 24 goals in 38 games to become the club’s top scorer in all competitions.

But while it was a strong season in front of goal for the 37-year-old, it was underwhelming for the team as United finished sixth in the Premier League and failed to lift a trophy for the fifth consecutive season.

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Ronaldo has played 19 consecutive seasons in the Champions League and United’s failure to qualify for the competition has led to speculation that the Portugal international could leave Old Trafford for a second time.

But in an interview with the club, Ronaldo said: “Obviously I was happy to be back at a club that really advanced my career, so it was incredible, the feeling of coming back. It was nice to feel the fans – they were very happy.

“I was and still am very lucky to be here and what I have to say to the fans is that they are amazing. Even when we lost games, they always support us, they are always with us. The fans are always in my heart and they are the people we should all respect because they are always on our side.

“For me the most important thing is trying to win the games and trying to win a league or a cup, but I believe Manchester will be where they belong. Like I said, sometimes it takes time, but I still believe in it.”

United’s stunning season was led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked in November, and interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who left the club at the end of the season despite previously agreeing to stay on as an agent.

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Ten Hag has filled the gap in leadership after leading Ajax to the Eredivisie title and Ronaldo says the Dutchman should be given time to turn United’s fortunes.

“I know he’s done a fantastic job for Ajax and that he’s an experienced coach, but we have to give him time,” said Ronaldo. “Things have to change the way he wants them to.

“Obviously I hope we succeed because if you succeed, the whole of Manchester will succeed too. So I wish him the best.

“We are happy and excited, not only the players but also the fans. I wish him the best and let’s hope we win trophies next year.”

A rare bright spot for United this season was the performance of their Under-18 side, who last month won the FA Youth Cup for the first time in eleven years.

Manchester United players celebrate after winning the FA Youth Cup Final match at Old Trafford, Manchester.  Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2022.
Picture:
Manchester United celebrate after winning the FA Youth Cup at Old Trafford

That success and a desire to pass on the lessons he’s learned in 20 years as a professional means Ronaldo is keen to ensure United’s current academy have the opportunity to impress Ten Hag.

“Obviously I’m in favor of giving opportunities to the younger generation because they will be the future,” said Ronaldo. “But you also have to help them put it in the right place because there is a lot of pressure to play in the Premier League, which I think is by far the most difficult league in the world.

“You have to give them time, give them opportunity and let them grow normally without pressure, but I think we should give chances to the younger generation.

“They understand that you have to succeed [make] Sacrifice, hard work, work ethic, dedication but of course I will give my opinion and my advice when the kids ask me for advice because I want to help.”

What positions does Manchester United aim for?

Melissa Reddy, Sky Sports News senior reporter:

Erik ten Hag’s determination to skip a furlough and step straight in as Manchester United manager tells the story of the scale of work he must endure.

The 52-year-old inherits a squad that is in need of a thorough overhaul after the worst Premier League season in its history.

That almighty task must be accomplished behind-the-scenes amid an organizational restructuring – including recruitment – as United seek a “detoxification of underachievement”.

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As a result, it’s a much slimmer list to judge what the club doesn’t need this summer.

Let’s take a look at the roster itself, which features 21 players signed by five different managers with no underlying style or age profile.

Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Lee Grant are leaving on a free transfer.

Dean Henderson, Anthony Martial, Eric Bailly and Brandon Williams are all expected to leave elsewhere for more minutes. Phil Jones and Diogo Dalot could also go.

The club are open to offers for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, who retains his place in the starting XI – let alone the captain’s armband – is in jeopardy. Marcus Rashford was terribly out of shape and Bruno Fernandes went from a transformative figure to a largely frustrating figure.

United’s attack cannot be backed only by Cristiano Ronaldo while the midfield lacked offensive protection and progression. There is no position that does not need strengthening.

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United need an elite anchor, a dynamic central midfielder, a top-class striker, a confident centre-back who is strong in the air and capable of defending large spaces with ease, new full-backs and another attacker to counter Jadon Sancho.

Ten Hag has a clear football ideology, which helps in building a recruitment profile. Sky sports news was told he wanted “more technical, aggressive, quick-thinking players” who had a “deep responsibility, off the ball and working for each other”.

With significant changes to scouting operations and a lack of football negotiations, it will be interesting to see how United handle extensive spending and earnings.

A lack of Champions League participation also puts the club at a disadvantage, but United believe Ten Hag’s continental exploits with Ajax and his ability to improve players will prove attractive enough for their goals.

Another element sold to potential recruits is the opportunity to “write a new history of Manchester United”. Ten Hag will oversee a very different squad and is expected to introduce a culture shift and more discipline in a toxic, divided environment.

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