Erik ten Hag insists Cristiano Ronaldo still working to full fitness after missing pre-season and praises Manchester United star’s ‘connections’ in Europa League win

    Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag expects Cristiano Ronaldo to score more goals when he is fully fit.

    The Portugal superstar opened his account for the 2022/23 season with a penalty in the Red Devils’ 2-0 victory at Sheriff in the Europa League on Thursday night.

    Ronaldo had made a slow start to the campaign

    AFP

    Ronaldo had made a slow start to the campaign

    It was only Ronaldo’s third start of the campaign after trying to force his way out of Old Trafford during the summer transfer window.

    Ronaldo missed pre-season due to personal reasons and there have been questions about the 37-year-old’s place in Ten Hag’s long-term plans.

    United have enjoyed a resurgence since Ronaldo was dropped from the starting XI after the 4-0 hammering at Brentford and lost for the first time since that match on his return to the line-up against Real Sociedad.

    Nevertheless, Ten Hag insists his use of Ronaldo is centred around fitness – and he still expects the legendary goalscorer to be a key player this term.

    The Dutchman said in his post-match press conference: “We could expect this when you miss pre-season so he has to work really hard and invest to get the right fitness then he will score more goals.

    “You can see he is really close when he gets fitter he will finish them. I think (he is) totally committed to this project and totally committed to this team, totally involved.

    Ten Hag was asked about Ronaldo’s form after the victory

    Getty

    Ten Hag was asked about Ronaldo’s form after the victory

    “You see also connections coming around him and he is constructing connections so I am happy with that.”

    He added on MUTV: “He needed that goal. He was close many times. You (could) see he wanted that so much (but) every time a foot was in between or it got a deflection or a misunderstanding.

    “We’re happy for him and the team wanted him to bring the goal, so that’s good.”

    Source

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