Cristiano Ronaldo is set to have a new manager at Manchester United next season, providing he stays put.
And recent reports indicate it will be Erik ten Hag who takes over at Old Trafford, with the Dutchman now ahead of rivals Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel when it comes to securing the post. However, his comments earlier in the season suggest he won’t accept mediocrity from whoever succeeds Ralf Rangnick.
When Manchester United re-signed Ronaldo from Juventus in the summer, pipping fierce rivals Manchester City to the player’s signature, many were expecting them to challenge for the Premier League title.
Having landed Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane as well, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed to finally have all the tools at his disposal to challenge Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea for the biggest domestic prizes in the game.
However, in the time since, United have fallen apart.
When Solskjaer was axed in November, the club’s hierarchy believed the season was saveable while they were still in contention for the FA Cup and Champions League.
Yet they’ve continued to toil under Ralf Rangnick, exiting those competitions to Middlesbrough and Atletico Madrid respectively – with both of those eliminations coming at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo has tried to do his part this season, with the Portugal international netting an impressive 18 goals across all competitions despite his powers starting to wane.
But this wasn’t what he came back to United for. He thought he’d be challenging for trophies, instead of competing to be in the Premier League top four.
Now, it seems like United are primed to pursue Ten Hag.
The Sun have stated the 52-year-old, having worked wonders at Ajax throughout his spell in Amsterdam, is now leading the race to become the next manager of the fallen giants.
However, comments made earlier in the season suggest Ten Hag will need to wave his magic wand straight away – or risk another troublesome campaign for the club.
Ronaldo made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t back at the club to compete for Champions League qualification.
And he also suggested that he knew how to fix the issues within United – so whether Ten Hag lends an ear to the veteran will be fascinating to see.
Talking to Sky Sports in January, he said: “We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I’m not going to mention it here because I don’t think it’s ethical on my part to say that.
“What I can say is we can do better – all of us.
“Manchester (United) belongs to important things, so we have to change that.
“I don’t want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I’m here to try to win, to compete.
“I think we compete but we are not yet in our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things.”
While Ten Hag is the popular pick for United, he will be inheriting the biggest task of his career.
While working as a No 2 at Bayern Munich is difficult, it’s nothing compared to being the main man at United.
It’s also a completely different challenge to the one he was given at Ajax upon taking over back in 2017.