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How Cristiano Ronaldo undermined Harry Maguire and Manchester United's training sessions

Cristiano Ronaldo caused too many problems in the Manchester United dressing room last season to justify his return this season.



Guardian journalist Jonathan Wilson joined The Football Show on Tuesday to discuss the new Premier League season and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Manchester United.

The Portugal captain spent the summer trying to get away but Manchester United retain his services in anticipation of the new season start. Whether that was the preference of Erik ten Hag or not is unclear, despite what ten Hag states publicly.

Ronaldo wants to play for a Champions League team and his agent has made that clear. Almost every big team in Europe turned down the chance to sign him, including Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.

Manchester United are in the Europa League and rebuilding, so it doesn't make sense for them tor etain Ronaldo. He doesn't fit in the philosophical vision of the new manager. Jonathan Willis explained that ten Hag and Ronaldo are unlikely to mesh well together.

"I don't see how Ronaldo can possibly play for them again," Willis said.

"That would be such an admission of defeat for the club. I know ten Hag has been saying 'Oh no I'm happy to meet with him' but surely that's just being diplomatic. There's no way Ronaldo fits in ten Hag's system. And we've seen everything ten Hag has done this summer has been very, very strict.

"He made them get rid of their personal chefs, he's reintroduced fines for being late for training. It's very much he's the boss."

But it's not just the football fit.

Ronaldo spent last season undermining his manager's training sessions and pushing for the captaincy. It's not a surprise that Ronaldo is self-centered but Manchester United need to gauge how his attitude impacts the dressing room at large.

"Rangnick was too nice for that role...ten Hag's got that steel.

"The stories you hear from last season about Ronaldo in training. Objecting to pressing drills and saying no, training has to be fun. So he was undermining Rangnick but also Harry Maguire, which maybe is one of the reasons Maguire had such a poor season last season.

"I just don't know why you'd want him anywhere near the dressing room."

Maguire is not a popular player, but he is a popular captain based on how many managers pick him. Ten Hag is the third manager to give him the captaincy. But Ronaldo felt superior to the oft-maligned center back and repeatedly tried to force the armband away from him.

It definitely didn't help the dressing room, nor did it help Maguire's performances as an individual player.

"He was desperate for the captaincy. The captaincy remained with Maguire but Ronaldo kept agitating for it. I think that furthered the sense of insecurity Maguire felt. I think it's easy to look at Maguire and think he's a big bloke with a massive head, he's from Yorkshire he must be tough. He's a little bit more vulnerable than we realize.

"You remember that period immediately after the court case in Greece...his form was disastrous."

David Collins on his son Nathan growing up.

 

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Cristiano Ronaldo Erik Ten Hag Harry Maguire Manchester United

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