EPL

Ronaldo happy to stay at Man Utd, claims Ten Hag

By Sports Desk August 31, 2022

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has claimed Cristiano Ronaldo is happy to stay at the club.

Ronaldo was widely reported to be pushing for an exit from Old Trafford due to his desire to play in the Champions League but offers were seemingly not forthcoming.

With the transfer window closing on Thursday, Ronaldo is set to remain at the club until at least January, barring any last-minute offers, but Ten Hag is adamant the 37-year-old is not disappointed by that outcome.

"We are on the same page. [He is happy to stay] otherwise he wouldn't be here," Ten Hag told reporters.

"From the start we said we planned with him, we are happy with him, he's happy to be here, and we want to make the season a success together."

Pressed on how Ronaldo – who has not started United's last two matches – could fit into his tactical approach, Ten Haag expressed confidence the former Real Madrid and Juventus superstar could settle into any system.

"The way of playing, the set of demands, you can see in training Ronaldo has the ability," he added.

"He will fit in because, I don't have to explain, he is a great player with great capabilities. He will fit in every system and every style. We are on one page, and he knows what the demands are."

Ten Hag has added to his ranks in the final days of the window with the capture of Antony, with the winger signing from former club Ajax for a fee of £85million (€100m).

Antony's arrival came just over a week after United had spent a reported £70m (€80m) on Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, but Ten Hag made it clear such spending was necessary.

"All the top clubs in the Premier League spent a lot of money, that is how the market developed," he explained. "I can do nothing about it, no one can, it's just the market. We have to accept how it went.

"If you want to compete at the top, you don't have a choice. All the Premier League clubs spent this kind of money. If you want to fight for the top four positions you have to do it, and we have the ambition, especially over the long term, to play for trophies, so I think we had to do it."

United face Leicester City on Thursday, seeking a third Premier League win in a row after starting the campaign with back-to-back defeats.

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    Holders Manchester City, chasing a fifth consecutive Premier League title, have a tough opener against Chelsea, now managed by Enzo Maresca, at Stamford Bridge on August 18.

    City have won their opening fixture in 12 of the last 13 seasons, though the only exception was a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham in 2021-22.

    Meanwhile, Chelsea will begin a top-flight season against the reigning champions for the first time in 53 years, losing to Arsenal in their last such fixture in 1971 (3-0).

    Manchester United and Fulham will kick off the season at Old Trafford on August 16, with the Red Devils becoming the first Premier League side in history to start eight consecutive seasons on home soil.

    Brentford and West Ham are tipped to have the toughest starts, with their opponents' average rating at 89.6 on Opta's team rating scale – both sides face Pep Guardiola's side in their opening five matches.

    Arsenal and Ipswich Town sit joint-third behind them, with their first five fixtures averaging at 88.7.

    After narrowly missing out to City in the title race in the last two seasons, Arsenal begin their campaign at home to Wolves but face tricky tests against Aston Villa, Tottenham and the Citizens in the following weeks.

    Ipswich begin their first Premier League campaign for 22 years against the side they ended their last one against. They will travel to Anfield for Arne Slot's first match in charge of Liverpool, before hosting the reigning champions a week later.

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  • Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion

    Roberto Martinez is daring to dream as Portugal prepare to open their Euro 2024 campaign, where ageing star Cristiano Ronaldo has been selected "on merit".

    Portugal are the favourites to top Group F in Germany, opening their tournament against Czechia on Tuesday before facing Turkiye and Georgia.

    Martinez's side were the only team to win 100 per cent of their games in the qualifying campaign (10/10), while they also scored more goals than any other team (36).

    The former Belgium manager has major-tournament pedigree, too, guiding the Red Devils to third place at the 2018 World Cup and quarter-finals at Euro 2020.

    Going further on this occasion remains at the forefront of the Spaniard's mind.

    "We must believe, we need to dream big," the Portugal head coach said at Monday's pre-match press conference.

    "If we don't dream big, then it will be tough. But we also owe it to everyone to play well.

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    "I brought seven shirts, not three. But now we need to put it all out there on the pitch for these first three matches."

    Portugal have the likes of Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos to call upon in attack, though a familiar face remains in Ronaldo.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner holds the record for most games (25), most goals (14), joint-most assists on record (six – since 1972) and most editions with at least one goal (five) at the Euros.

    Indeed, since 1972, Ronaldo has scored/assisted twice as many goals as any other player at this tournament: 20 in total (14 goals, six assists). Michel Platini is second on 10 (nine goals, one assist).

    Ronaldo is also the European player with the most appearances at major tournaments, World Cup and Euros combined (47), therefore his inclusion is hardly a surprise.

     

    "Cristiano is in the national team on merit," Martinez added. "Nobody gets into the national team just by having a name.

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    "Obviously, over the years Cristiano has changed his way of playing slightly, but I can only say that Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to back that up."

    Ruben Dias says Ronaldo's influence spans further than his influence on the pitch, however.

    "I would say he represents inspiration, he represents that everything is possible, he represents that you can dream and you can achieve it," the Manchester City defender said.

    "It's obviously a pleasure to have him with us in this moment of his career. He represents to us that he really wants to win again and he's our captain and obviously we follow him to the end."

  • Beating Ronaldo the motivation for Czechia, says Hasek Beating Ronaldo the motivation for Czechia, says Hasek

    Overcoming Cristiano Ronaldo is among the main motivations for Czechia ahead of Tuesday's Euro 2024 clash with Portugal, says head coach Ivan Hasek.

    Portugal have been touted as serious contenders to lift the trophy on July 14, but they first face group-stage clashes with Czechia, Turkiye and Georgia.

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    Rather than playing down the significance of facing the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, Hasek used Monday's pre-match press conference to challenge his players to shut him out.

    "We want to neutralise Ronaldo. Especially for our guys, they will remember this for their whole lives," Hasek said.

    "Ronaldo is one of the best players and they will be able to say they played against him and maybe they will even be successful. 

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    Czechia are appearing at an 11th edition of the Euros (including participations as Czechoslovakia), including their eighth in a row.

    That streak began with the 1996 tournament, where they were runners-up in England. Only Germany (14) and France (nine) are currently on longer runs of consecutive European Championship appearances.

    With Czechia tipped by many to compete with Turkiye for second place in Group F, Hasek says the key will not be how they start the group stage, but how they finish it. 

    "The most important thing at this tournament is the last game. So, the first game doesn't really decide anything," he said.

    "All our 26 nominated players are ready, they are healthy, they are fit, and we cannot wait. We are really excited about tomorrow to start everything.

    "When you see the pitches, when you see the stadiums, you see this is a really great footballing event."

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