Manchester United must continue to follow Erik ten Hag’s example and ditch Cristiano Ronaldo in the coming months to avoid a domino effect leading to all-too-familiar embarrassment. Ronaldo has burned bridges with his coach and the club with an explosive 90-minute interview with Piers Morgan and now he must be shown the exit door.
According to The timesTen Hag does not want Ronaldo to play for United again and has made his stance clear to club owner Joel Glazer, chief executive Richard Arnold and director of football John Murtough. And while the hierarchy agrees, it’s easier said than done to get rid of the 37-year-old and his £500,000-a-week contract.
United are delaying their action on Ronaldo until they have seen the full interview, due to be published on Wednesday and Thursday. The Red Devils are in talks with legal representatives about his comments, with the possibility of terminating his contract.
When one door closes, another opens, and 18-year-old sensation Alejandro Garnacho has used his playing time opportunities with aplomb. His recent performances, helping United to wins against Aston Villa and Fulham, have led many fans to clamor for him to replace Ronaldo as the club’s number 7 in the new year.
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However, if United follow through on Ten Hag’s wish to remove Ronaldo from the scene, they must also provide him with the attacking reinforcements he wants. The Dutchman’s need for a new striker became apparent in the first third of his first season in charge, and given Ronaldo’s situation, plans to bring one in next summer must be brought forward.
While Garnacho learned from punishment for his attitude problems in the preseason, it would be a daunting test of his character if he were handed such an iconic jersey number as a teenager. The promising careers of Adnan Januzaj and Mason Greenwood at United were shattered after they inherited the number 11 shirt due to attitude flaws on and off the pitch.
The club must learn from their mistakes and keep Garnacho on the ground to reduce the risk of further humiliation.
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The Red Devils are increasingly likely to sign a new starting forward in January, with Dusan Vlahovic and Benjamin Sesko believed to be near the top of Ten Hag’s wish list. If they lure one to Old Trafford, it would be wise to present them with the number 7 or number 11 and let Garnacho work his way to such a prestigious honour.
Ten Hag has publicly insisted that United are taking the development of the Argentinian winger steadily, despite his recent impact, so it would be a surprise if he switched to number 49 so early in his senior career. And he can change that stance by quickly removing No. 7 from the table after Ronaldo’s expected exit.
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