Roy Keane hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a ‘genius’ after his sensational hat-trick fired Manchester United to victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
But amid struggles under Ralf Rangnick, Ronaldo could leave Erik ten Hag with a problem to solve if he becomes United manager next season.
The 37-year-old had scored just two goals in his previous 12 games in all competitions before returning from injury against Tottenham.
But he fired United ahead three times in the 3-2 win against Antonio Conte’s side at Old Trafford, netting the 59th hat-trick of his illustrious career.
Ronaldo’s second of the night officially made him the all-time top goalscorer in football history, now on 807 goals.
His contributions also boosted the Red Devils’ bid for a top-four finish and Champions League qualification in what seems to be a three-way fight with Arsenal and Spurs.
And Keane lauded the Old Trafford icon after full-time, acknowledging the world-class quality he offers Rangnick amid suggestions that he has stifled United’s season.
He told Sky Sports: “The guy’s a genius; his three goals were fantastic. He brings so much to the team. Why [do] people think he cannot bring goals or value?
“Forget about FIFA; that is a lot of goals. Scoring goals is the hardest part of the game. Some players don’t even score in training! What more can you say about him? He’s a genius!”
But whilst Ronaldo’s quality is undisputed, there would be a glaring problem facing Ten Hag if he entered the hot seat this summer.
If United secure Champions League qualification, the competition’s leading goalscorer will likely remain at the club for the second year of his contract.
And whilst his display on Saturday suggests that’s good news, it’s a fact that United have lost the mobility and cohesiveness of their attack that they had in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first two-and-a-half seasons.
Ronaldo is undoubtedly Rangnick’s best goalscorer, but he doesn’t tend to press as much as the German coach would like him to, which would be no different under Ten Hag.
The Dutchman will have to work out how to best utilise the Portuguese forward in his playing style.
He will have to accommodate Ronaldo, especially if he wants to utilise the free-flowing attacking style he has so effectively put into practice at Ajax but also score goals.
He is surely too big a personality to be benched by the
But there is still plenty of work for United to do in their pursuit of a top-four finish, just two points above Arsenal after four more games played.
Only if they secure Champions League football will the issue of fitting in Ronaldo remain.