Reports have emerged that Cristiano Ronaldo requested to replace Harry Maguire as Manchester United captain during his time at Old Trafford. However, the request was denied by interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who allowed Maguire to keep the armband. Ronaldo’s contract with United was terminated in November after he criticized the club’s hierarchy and Rangnick in an interview with Piers Morgan. He also criticized the decision to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Rangnick, claiming that the German is “not even a coach”.
United’s struggles continued under Rangnick in the second half of last season, and new manager Erik ten Hag immediately sensed a fractured dressing room when he arrived at Old Trafford last summer. “There was no spirit,” Ten Hag said in December. “I saw no team dynamic in the squad.” It appears that United’s lack of spirit in the dressing room involved the senior members of the squad, including Ronaldo and Maguire.
Maguire has also had a difficult spell at United this season, falling down the pecking order with Ten Hag preferring Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as his preferred centre-back pairing. According to ESPN, United’s coaching staff have concerns over Maguire’s tendency to rush out of position to win tackles and “a perceived lack of mobility”. However, Maguire remains confident in his abilities and is determined to compete for a regular role at both club and country level.
Overall, it seems that United’s struggles on and off the pitch have been compounded by a lack of leadership in the dressing room. Ronaldo’s request to become captain may have been an attempt to address this issue, but it was ultimately denied by Rangnick. As United continue to search for stability and success under Ten Hag, it remains to be seen whether Maguire or another player will step up as a true leader on the pitch.