Erik ten Hag ‘impressing’ Man Utd stars for two reasons amid Cristiano Ronaldo uncertainty

Scott McTominay discusses new Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has quickly gained the respect of his players at Old Trafford in spite of the uncertainty surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s immediate future at the club, according to reports. Ten Hag has been stamping his authority over his Red Devils squad throughout pre-season and will be hoping that his style of management translates into on-pitch performances when the new Premier League campaign gets underway in a matter of weeks.

The former Ajax boss has been working tirelessly to improve United’s hopes of securing a top-four finish at the next time of asking, with Tyrell Malacia among the new signings to have already been snapped up since the end of last season. The left-back and his United team-mates that travelled to Australia for their pre-season tour have been left impressed by Ten Hag’s start to life in charge despite his failure to resolve Cristiano Ronaldo’s situation at the club, according to the Manchester Evening News.

It is said that Ten Hag’s response to United’s pre-season draw with Aston Villa endeared plenty of players to his man-management methods after the final whistle. The Dutchman did not hold back in his post-match assessment of what went wrong against Villa, who managed to fight back from two goals down to ensure the spoils were shared thanks to Calum Chambers’ injury-time equaliser.

Ten Hag was said to have given his squad a ‘reality check’ in the dressing room by branding their capitulation as unacceptable and insisting that such a performance should not happen again when the competitive action gets back underway. His no-nonsense approach was thought to have ‘struck the right notes’ among United’s players, who have also responded warmly to their manager’s chosen style of football.

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A clear playing identity has been starting to rear its head over the course of pre-season, with Ten Hag’s stylish and modern ways having gained plenty of admirers at United over the last few weeks. It seems as though momentum is certainly building and the Red Devils manager will be looking for evidence of further improvements when his side do battle with Atletico Madrid in Oslo later this week.

Although Ten Hag’s work has not gone unnoticed by the players at his disposal, he is yet to solve what is arguably the biggest problem of all by securing the future of Cristiano Ronaldo in advance of the new campaign. The Portuguese forward has been absent for the duration of pre-season and wants to leave in order to play Champions League football despite only returning to United a year ago.

There is an argument to suggest that United have played better as a team without Ronaldo in the weeks since Ten Hag’s arrival but the latter has consistently underlined his desire to keep the five-time Ballon d’Or winner around for at least another season. He recently insisted that Ronaldo can still play a major role for United in spite of his reluctance to stick around at Old Trafford if he can be convinced to buy into the project that Ten Hag is looking to build over the next 12 months.

“Concerning is maybe not the right word,” the United boss told reporters when asked for an update on Ronaldo’s situation last week.

“I focus on the players who are there and they are doing really well. They are in good shape and I have further focus on that and develop that. I cannot wait for [Ronaldo] to come in and then we will integrate him.”

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