Former England striker and talkSPORT host Carlton Cole has been suitably impressed with how Erik ten Hag has dealt with removing the all-time prima donna from his Manchester United starting line-up.
Five-time Champions League winner Cristiano Ronaldo had presumptuously missed United’s pre-season due to ‘family issues’ and followed this up with a summer of clock-and-dagger transfer speculation, which finally amounted to zilch.
After reports his agent had held talks with Bayern Munich, Chelsea and a host of Europe’s top flight clubs to try and secure a return to the European top tier competition, the 37-year-old had the door slammed shut in his face and finally ended up staying at Old Trafford with a whimper, coming back in time for an opening day loss to Brighton.
Fielded yet again for the match against Brentford – which they went down to in a humiliating 4-0 away defeat – the Portugal skipper has since been put on the bench, while United went on to rack up a four-game winning streak as vindication of Ten Hag’s early work.
“The way that he’s conducted himself with the Ronaldo situation has been top,” Cole said.
“It sends a great message to the other lads to say ‘listen if you want to be in my team you’ve got to play by the rules’.
“You can’t just be coming in here throwing your weight around, we know you’re Ronaldo, we know you’ve got a big name.
Ronaldo had looked set for a move away from Old Trafford but it was all puffed up hot air in the end.
“It’s not just on Ronaldo by the way, but if you’re going for the top dog and make an example and try and lead by example you’re going to have to go for Ronaldo.
“He’s the main guy, he didn’t come to training the whole of the pre-season, that didn’t show a bond, so put him on the bench.
“It’s been brilliant, that’s what you want, to be treated fairly, imagine if any of those other players didn’t turn up for pre-season, no matter what the circumstances you wouldn’t be playing.
“Ronaldo has had to bide his time as well, he’s going to try and get in and fight for his place and there’s been a hoo-ha about him leaving but it hasn’t happened, so he’s got to fight for his place with the World Cup coming up.”
It’s high time the prima donnas of the football world realize it’s not about their blown-up egos but the players and the manager as a unified team working together for the common good of the club.
Well done, Erik ten Hag. You most certainly are a sight for sore eyes!