Cristiano Ronaldo needs to improve his fitness at Manchester United, says Erik ten Hag

Cristiano Ronaldo needs to get fitter and more selfless if he wants to play a leading role in Erik ten Hag’s new Manchester United.

United’s Netherlands manager is delighted Ronaldo is staying at the club after the transfer window but is aware that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner must adapt to the changing philosophy at Old Trafford and not the other way around.

Ronaldo, 37, has started just once under ten hag – the 4-0 defeat at Brentford – after missing the club’s tour to Australia for personal reasons and he is likely to be back on the bench against Arsenal on Sunday, as United have won three at a trot with a high-tempo attack from Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes. The £85m deadline day that Antony was signed is also a subject of controversy.

Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured) has been urged by coach Erik ten Hag to improve his fitness

Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured) has been urged by coach Erik ten Hag to improve his fitness

“I will be his friend, sometimes I will be his teacher. It depends on the situation,” Ten Hag said of his carrot-and-stick approach to Ronaldo. “As we all know, he didn’t have preseason and you can’t miss preseason.

“It depends, it demands collaboration and requires a certain positioning, on and off ball possession. And the other thing is fitness.’

Ten Hag has impressed in his short tenure at United. His demeanor, both on the training ground and outside, is crisp and to the point.

He also shares the ability to make big decisions with United’s great Sir Alex Ferguson. Eliminating Ronaldo, captain Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Fred after the Brentford mess was a risk but has paid off so far.

Erik ten Hag has said he's happy Ronaldo is staying at the club after the transfer window

Erik ten Hag has said he’s happy Ronaldo is staying at the club after the transfer window

Entry into the Dutch market has also been controversial, especially as the sums for Antony, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia add up to a delicious £156million.

For every England success story from the Eredivisie like Luis Suarez and Ruud van Nistelrooy, there were players who didn’t make it.

Ajax captain Davy Klaassen was a flop at Everton, while Mateja Kezman scored just seven goals for Chelsea after scoring a goal a game for PSV.

Lisandro Martinez has established himself in the Manchester United team after a difficult start

Lisandro Martinez has established himself in the Manchester United team after a difficult start

Ten Hag, who has returned to Ajax to snap up Antony and Martinez and knew all about Malacia from games against Feyenoord, insists the club have done their homework rather than betting on players who might not make it for the Premier League are suitable.

“Firstly, the players we have signed are internationals,” he said. “Secondly, they (Antony and Martinez) performed really well in the Champions League. And third, they have individual attributes. They are capable of playing high-intensity football.”

Although the signing of Martinez, a 5ft 9in centre-back, has been questioned given the physical demands of English football, he has already become something of a cult hero among United fans.

Arsenal were also keen to sign the ‘Argentinian butcher’, whose nickname was a pet name among Ajax fans but belies a high level of skill, so Ten Hag is delighted he has opted for Old Trafford.

Anthony was signed by Ajax for £85million on Manchester United transfer deadline day

Anthony was signed by Ajax for £85million on Manchester United transfer deadline day

“Yes, I wanted him,” said the United boss. ‘Ball game, but you also see his defensive skills. His tenacity, his positioning, his anticipation.’

Dutch legend Marco van Basten thinks the price for Brazilian Antony is too high. “He hasn’t proved anything yet,” he said. Still, the 22-year-old suits Ten Hag’s attacking fluidity, in which he, Rashford, Anthony Martial, Anthony Elanga and Sancho can all rotate across the forward line.

Ronaldo has to accept that. When ten Hag speaks of “cooperation”, he means teamwork and working for one another on the pitch. What the youngsters can learn is Ronaldo’s ability to thrive under pressure.

None of United’s biggest signings – Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire or Romelu Lukaku – have been huge successes at the club. Antony, the second most expensive in the club’s history, has to buck this trend.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11176899/Cristiano-Ronaldo-needs-improve-fitness-Manchester-United-says-Erik-ten-Hag.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Cristiano Ronaldo needs to improve his fitness at Manchester United, says Erik ten Hag

Maureen Mackey

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