Erik Ten Hag on Monday dropped Cristiano Ronaldo to the bench for their crucial Premier League match against Liverpool at Old Trafford but the Dutchman believes the Portugal star can still fit into his new style of play. Ten Hag took a bold but understandable decision as Ronaldo started on the bench and he played a frontline of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga.
Erik Ten Hag was rewarded for his bold call as United rattled Liverpool with pace in the first-half and eventually went on to win their first match of the league season 2-1. It was also United’s first win over Liverpool since 2018 as the Dutch tactician breathed a sigh of relief after two horror outings to begin his era at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo came on as a substitute in the 86th minute, but was unable to make an impact during his brief cameo.
Erik Ten Hag, speaking to the press after United’s stunning 2-1 victory, said he is confident that Ronaldo will adapt to his approach and be a crucial part of their journey in the ongoing season.
“I think he can. In his whole career, he, under several managers, he did in several styles and systems,” Ten Hag said.
“He always performed, so, why he can’t do this? For me, his age is not an issue. If you are young, you are good enough, and when you are old and you still deliver the performance, you are also good enough.”
‘WE STICK TOGETHER’
Ronaldo was not the only player from the United team that lost 4-0 to Brentford to be dropped, as captain Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Fred also started on the bench, with Ten Hag saying the changes were part of his game-plan to tackle Liverpool.
“We have a squad and then we have a way of play, a style, but also, a game-plan, and you look what is the best approach to the game, and that is what we did today,” Ten Hag said.
“We do it every game, so, today we picked those players but can be Saturday (at Southampton), it can be different.
“We need a squad, because we have many games to cover, and so, if we make a team out of the squad and we stick together as a squad then we can achieve a lot. I’m convinced about that.”
Manchester United will next face Southampton away from home on August 27.