Cristiano Ronaldo is the biggest of Erik ten Hag’s mounting headaches at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo is the biggest of Erik ten Hag’s mounting headaches at Manchester United

Manchester United preseason guide Ronaldo Ten Hag broadcasts news - REUTERS

Manchester United preseason guide Ronaldo Ten Hag broadcasts news – REUTERS

Erik ten Hag wasted little time in showing the Manchester United players who’s boss as he tries to put an end to the chaos on and off the pitch at Old Trafford, but trouble is piling up for the manager Sunday’s Premier League opening game against Brighton.

How do you solve a problem like Ronaldo?

United start the new season with their manager and star player on a possible collision course. Any hopes that the Cristiano Ronaldo soap opera would calm down ahead of United’s Premier League opener against Brighton on Sunday at Old Trafford have been dashed by the events of the past few days. As if Ronaldo’s desire to leave Old Trafford and his absence from the entire pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia for family reasons weren’t enough of a problem, the wanton striker has now been publicly slammed by Ten Hag over the “unacceptable” decision to leave , scolded Sunday’s home game before the end of the game against Rayo Vallecano.

Ronaldo wasn’t the only player to be reprimanded for his early exit against Rayo, but how the five-time World Player of the Year reacts to having his ego stabbed in this way will be interesting, especially as doors are closing on a possible move ahead the end of the transfer window at the end of the month. By making an example of Ronaldo, Ten Hag has shown he’s not afraid to tackle the dressing room’s most prominent player and biggest earner head-on, and will not make exceptions to instill discipline, raise standards and unify a fragmented dressing room last season.

But that doesn’t mean he made an already difficult situation any easier to deal with, and you only had to witness the awkward exchange between Ronaldo and Ten Hag during a first-half drinking break against Rayo to sense the tension. Insecure star players are a manager’s worst nightmare and the reality is they are not much bigger than Ronaldo, whose much-heralded return to Old Trafford 12 months ago is turning into a nightmare for both player and club. United have claimed Ronaldo – who was said to be at a promotional shoot on Wednesday – is not for sale and is not going anywhere, but at what price?

There could be further problems as Ronaldo will likely have to fight for a spot on the bench in the opening weeks of the season, having only called in last Tuesday, and it’s still unclear how he will fit into Ten Hag’s game plans for an ongoing one pressing game.

Shadow of Cesc Fabregas in the Frenkie de Jong saga

Fourteen weeks have now passed since it was announced that United were in talks with Barcelona over the signing of Frenkie de Jong, and fans are clinging to hope that the Dutch midfielder’s agonizing pursuit will not result in a repeat of the 2013 Cesc Fabregas saga – or worse and Chelsea steal it from under their noses.

Like Ten Hag now at De Jong, David Moyes had made Fabregas his priority transfer target in his first summer in charge of Old Trafford, only to be faced with a frantic scramble for an alternative in the last three weeks of the window after the Spanish midfielder. for whom United had two rejected offers, opted to remain at Barcelona. Moyes eventually had to settle for an 11-hour deal for Marouane Fellaini after desperate moves for Daniele De Rossi and Ander Herrera also failed. The situation is a bit different this time around as United have indeed agreed a £72m fee for De Jong with Barcelona. But the midfielder has shown little sign of wanting to leave the Nou camp and when United are forced to look late in the window for the holding midfielder Ten Hag craves, they risk being held for ransom or compromised to be forced.

Manchester United preseason guide Ronaldo Ten Hag broadcasts news - GETTY IMAGES

Manchester United preseason guide Ronaldo Ten Hag broadcasts news – GETTY IMAGES

United insist they would not have gotten this far had they not believed De Jong would come, but the clock is ticking and there is now also the added risk of Chelsea intervening. Todd Boehly, Chelsea’s new co-owner, recently had dinner with Barcelona president Joan Laporta in Barcelona and if De Jong is being pushed out of the Nou camp, there has long been a feeling he would rather join a club in the Champions League , something Chelsea can offer that United cannot. It was also reported that de Jong would rather live in London than Manchester when the going gets tough. Whatever goes through, a deal cannot go through until there is some sort of settlement regarding the £17million De Jong owes from Barcelona in wages he has been trying to defer during the pandemic.

Where are the attacking reinforcements?

The De Jong saga is having an impact on United’s other transfer business, not the least of which is Ten Hag’s desire to step up his attack. RB Salzburg and Slovenia striker Benjamin Sesko is an interesting target but United have so far been put off by their £50m+ price tag during talks and would ideally like a No6 midfielder in the building first. Anthony Martial, who is expected to lead the line at Ronaldo’s expense as a centre-forward against Brighton, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, has enjoyed an encouraging pre-season.

But with Ronaldo low on game fitness and wanting out and the inexperienced Anthony Elanga and untried lightweight Amad Diallo the only other fallbacks left Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard and Mason Greenwood still unavailable, United is just an injury from A serious injury removes a headache in attack. United have already pulled out of Antony over Ajax’s evaluation of the Brazilian striker.

Sales needed to swell Transfer Kitty

Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Cavani and Lingard have all left as free agents and Dean Henderson has joined Nottingham Forest on loan, all of which have freed up significant payroll space. But the £10m Fulham paid for midfielder Andreas Pereira is the only money United have so far recovered from sales and it remains to be seen how much money the club can realistically make from a planned defensive clearance of deadwood in the coming weeks can generate.

United – who currently have seven senior centre-backs on their books – are willing to listen to offers for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Phil Jones, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe but a combination of high wages, poor form or troubled ones Injury records are obstacles to getting healthy transfer fees from suitors. Telles will undergo a medical ahead of a loan move with Sevilla on Thursday, although the deal does not include a purchase option and a loan at best seems the most likely scenario if Wan-Bissaka is hit by the right three years after Back’s stunning £50million -Transfer from Crystal Palace.

Manchester United preseason guide Ronaldo Ten Hag broadcasts news - GETTY IMAGES

Manchester United preseason guide Ronaldo Ten Hag broadcasts news – GETTY IMAGES

Sevilla are also thought to be interested in Bailly, who has also sparked interest from Roma, with Ivory Coast center half and Williams appearing as United’s best chances of decent fees.

More anti-Glaser protests planned

As if Ten Hag didn’t have enough distractions to deal with, United’s game against Brighton will come amid further protests over the Glazers’ ‘inappropriate’ ownership of the club. Pleas by United chief executive Richard Arnold for fans to put all their energies into supporting Ten Hag seem to have fallen on deaf ears as the 1958 group vowed to stage another demonstration on Sunday which they hope will that it will lead to the entrances to the club’s megastore and The directors’ tunnel at Old Trafford will be temporarily closed.

Likely Man Utd XI vs Brighton: David DeGea; Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes; Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.

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