Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to get the last laugh over Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag

Cristiano Ronaldo Man Utd

Cristiano Ronaldo left Man Utd in bitter circumstances last year

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 02/11/2023

- 13:31

The veteran was cut loose by the club last year

When Erik ten Hag jettisoned Cristiano Ronaldo last winter, it was the biggest call of his Manchester United tenure to date.

He wasn't just getting rid of the club's best striker, with the veteran netting 24 goals under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick the previous season.

Ten Hag was removing a United legend, a player many consider to be the greatest they've seen strut their stuff at Old Trafford.

At the time, it seemed to be the right decision.

Cristiano Ronaldo Man Utd Erik ten Hag

Cristiano Ronaldo never got on with Erik ten Hag during their spell at Man Utd together


Ronaldo had shot himself in the foot by refusing to come on in a 2-0 win over Tottenham last October.

He then left the club with little choice but to act after publicly criticising Ten Hag, and the much-maligned Glazer family, in a bombshell interview.

Initially, after Ronaldo left, United saw Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes emerge from the 38-year-old's shadow.

Both players were key as the Red Devils finished third in the Premier League table last term.

And they also helped United win a first trophy in six years, with the fallen giants securing glory in the Carabao Cup.

Fast-forward to now, however, and Ronaldo looks increasingly likely to get the last laugh.

United insist Ten Hag has their backing and that his position is safe for the foreseeable future.

Only a fool would actually believe that, however.

United aren't exactly going to brief that they're looking to sack the Dutchman, aware of what any premature announcement could do to their fragile morale.

But history suggests Ten Hag's head will roll, as it did for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and David Moyes before him.

With United losing eight of their first 15 games this season, many feel Ten Hag should already be gone.

He has been backed to the hilt, with the Red Devils spending around £400million over the past 18 months.

But United now look further away from challenging for the Premier League title than ever before.

There is no style, with even Ten Hag admitting he can't get his current crop of players to perform like his successful Ajax team.

And even individual magic is waning, too, as confidence dips inside the dressing room.

Ronaldo was obviously flawed during his second spell at United.

But he looks set to get the last laugh as the crisis at Old Trafford goes on.

Ronaldo has scored more goals than any other footballer on the planet in 2023.

And even though he's now playing in the comfortable environment of Saudi Arabia, that's still an astonishing achievement.

Ten Hag gambled by showing Ronaldo the door but it's ironic that this United team, simply put, can't score goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to score goals galore as Man Utd toil under Erik ten Hag


They've found the net just 11 times in the league. Only Crystal Palace, Fulham, Everton, Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth, Luton, Burnley and Sheffield United have scored less.

Rasmus Hojlund looks promising but doesn't guarantee goals like Ronaldo does.

And with Rashford going off the boil, making the England international their best-paid player is a decision that has rapidly backfired.


Erik ten Hag Man Utd

Cristiano Ronaldo left Man Utd with a legacy but that doesn't look like it will happen for Erik ten Hag


Ronaldo won't speak about United's current predicament. He hasn't ever since his interview nearly 12 months ago.

But, as United go up in flames, he can at least take solace that he's left the club with a legacy.

As for Ten Hag, that doesn't current appear like it will happen. Instead, a parting of ways seems increasingly likely instead.

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