Ex-Man Utd coach Chris Armas has explained how Erik Ten Hag can keep Cristiano Ronaldo at the club and addressed how leaks affected Ralf Rangnick’s time at Old Trafford.
Armas served as an assistant to Rangnick during the German’s six-month spell as interim manager, during which the club bounced back from a run of five defeats in eight games at the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure – but ultimately missed out on Champions League football after another run of poor form at the end of the season.
Rangnick’s short spell in charge was often overshadowed by reported leaks from the Old Trafford dressing room and rumors about his relationship with forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
That intense speculation over the Portuguese striker has remained since Ten Hag was appointed. Ronaldo has missed most of United’s pre-season for family reasons and told the club last week he still wants to leave Old Trafford before the transfer window closes on September 1.
Armas explained how he had tried to get the best out of the six-time Ballon D’Or winner, who scored 12 Premier League goals in 19 games during Rangnick’s time in charge, and how Ten Hag could try to win over his wantaway forward ahead of Sunday’s season opener with Brighton, live on Sky Sports.
“It’s a hands-on approach, speaking with him, bringing him into the office, asking him questions, so he’s part of the solutions and part of the success,” he said.
“It was my job to work out how to get all that fire, experience and talent and challenge him as much as I could. I think the most important thing is to engage with Cristiano.
“He’s got so much to give, his commitment to winning and scoring, each guy has their different type of leadership. He can be a leader in his way, and my goal like everyone in the squad was to say how can I get the most out of Cristiano.
“When you talk about, at the highest level, seeing a professional and what winning means to Ronaldo, what scoring goals mean to him – he’s on the team, a big part of the team and he’s a guy who produced.”
Among the reports said to come from the Manchester United dressing room during Armas’s time at the club was a story that the first-team squad had liked him to hapless comedy TV football coach Ted Lasso. Further leaks included players’ apathy with Rangnick’s training methods and an alleged fall-out between Cristiano Ronaldo and captain Harry Maguire.
The American coach admitted the ongoing stories had made it more difficult to build a positive atmosphere around the club, saying: “People who know me know what I care about and how much I value the team. What happens on the inside, as we say .
“When things are trying to penetrate and negativity is coming from the outside – to be honest, a lot of it was untrue. Who’s to say what’s true and not, but I can tell you a lot of it was untrue, and that it does create negativity.For those players, and myself included, you can’t listen to the noise.
“We were trying to become a team, it’s always a process but at Manchester United, at the time we arrived, all of us were trying to come together.
“I think Ralf did a really good job of stabilizing things when we got there. You realize what a challenge it was, but after the Champions League exit, not getting the result at home, you can see the air got sucked out a little bit in what we were doing.Then it becomes difficult.
“Did we really move the needle, in the end? We wanted to finish in the top four and play a small part in that, it’s disappointing in the end but overall it was an incredible experience for me.”
Henderson: ‘Criminal’ to spend last season on the bench
United’s Dean Henderson, who was loaned to Nottingham Forest earlier this summer, was scathing about his treatment by his parent club when speaking to the media ahead of their opening Premier League game at Newcastle this weekend.
Henderson failed to make a single Premier League appearance for United last season after challenging David De Gea for the No 1 jersey in 2020/21, and told TalkSPORT it was “criminal” that he had missed out on so much football to sit on the bench at Old Trafford.
“The conversation I had, coming out of the Euro squad, was that you’re coming back here to be the number one goalkeeper. I got Covid – unfortunately, no one followed through with anything they told me,” he said.
“I turned so many good loans down last summer [after being promised No 1 position], and they wouldn’t let me go. It was frustrating. To sit there and waste 12 months is criminal really, at my age. I was smoking.”
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