Erik ten Hag has done a "marvellous" job since taking charge at Manchester United, says former Netherlands midfielder Ronald de Boer.

But the Dutchman says his compatriot will need time to fully implement his ideas and secure a full turnaround in fortunes for the Red Devils.

Ten Hag succeeded interim boss Ralf Rangnick at the end of last season, and has weathered a slow start – plus the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo – to emerge with an enhanced reputation.

With United fifth in the Premier League amid its mid-season break for the World Cup, De Boer believes the former Ajax boss has shown his mettle under the microscope to impress so far.

"I think he has been marvellous," he told Sky Sports. "We're talking about the biggest league in the world.

"Everybody has an opinion about Manchester United, not only in England but all over the world. I must say he's coping very well.

"He's had to make some decisions, and I think if you just look from the outside, they're starting to play better. I think you give him time."

Despite an upturn in both mood and form for United, the likelihood of a silverware challenge already looks slim, with the club 11 points off Premier League leaders Arsenal.

But De Boer pointed to both Ten Hag's prior record and that of Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, who has also battled criticism for underachievement during his tenure, only to now be leading a title charge.

"He had a great four years at Ajax with an unbelievable amount of trophies, so give him time," he reinforced. "Look at Mikel Arteta.

"He had the worst team in the history of Arsenal, and now he's maybe the second-best manager after [Manchester City boss Pep] Guardiola.

"I think [Ten Hag has] shown the quality. I believe heavily in Erik ten Hag."

Erik ten Hag is doing an "unbelievable job" at Manchester United but the club must continue to strengthen, says their former midfielder Quinton Fortune.

The ex-Ajax head coach replaced Ralf Rangnick in the Old Trafford dugout following an inconsistent 2021-22 season, which also saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked as United finished 13 points off the top four.

The Red Devils lost their first two Premier League games under Ten Hag, but have gone on to register 26 points after the first 14 outings - five more than they managed at the same stage of the previous campaign.

Fortune spent seven years at United under Alex Ferguson between 1999 and 2006, winning the Premier League title in the 2002-03 season.

He is pleased with the strides made by his former club, who he hopes can land silverware under the Dutchman this term.

"Ten Hag has done an unbelievable job compared to what I've seen last season," Fortune told Stats Perform.

"I'm sure Ten Hag would like to win a trophy this season, because that's the nature of the game at the moment.

"He's made so many good changes already, and you can see when you go to Old Trafford the positivity around the place about the way the team's playing."

It is now 23 years since Fortune joined a United side who had just won an unprecedented treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League the previous season.

The former South Africa international believes it will take time for the Red Devils to return to those heights, but highlighted the importance of Ten Hag finding the right profile of players to improve the squad. 

"Of course, he needs to make signings to strengthen the team and to have competition in the team," he added.

"I was very fortunate that when I arrived in 1999 - just after we won the treble - there was competition for every position, and it was relentless in training.

"It's not easy playing for Manchester United, the pressure that comes with it. So, they need to get the right characters that want to play for Manchester United.

"They need players who have got the desire to win, and that fit in with the style of play and in the changing room.

"That's just the nature of the culture at Manchester United - it's not about winning one trophy, it's winning every single trophy and trying to do it.

"Yes, it will take a few windows for him to get the players that he wants, but at the moment for us, from what I've seen, it's looking very positive."

Manchester United winger Alejandro Garnacho is grateful to manager Erik ten Hag after being given the opportunity to make his senior breakthrough.

The 18-year-old made a couple of first-team cameos under Ralf Rangnick last season but only really cemented his place as a genuine option for the senior side in the past few weeks.

Garnacho looked lively in pre-season and appeared set for a prominent role in the squad, but Ten Hag revealed after his full debut against Sheriff in October that he had held him back because he was "not happy with him" at the start of the season.

Ten Hag was relatively vague when explaining why Garnacho had been left out for so long, saying "[young players] have to know the demands in top football, it's not only about a trick or scoring one goal".

Nevertheless, Garnacho quickly built on his impressive performance against Sheriff, going on to score winning goals against Real Sociedad and Fulham, the latter a fine finish after an explosive run and clever link-up with Christian Eriksen.

He went into the World Cup break with eight first-team appearances under his belt for this season, and despite Ten Hag's restrictive use of him earlier in the campaign, he was appreciative of the Dutchman's man-management.

"Erik Ten Hag is a very good manager and, above all, he's a great person," Garnacho, who was named United's Player of the Month for last week, told the club's website.

"He always pays very close attention to us all, and helps us a great deal, especially the young players.

"I've had to keep working hard until that moment came where I was given my opportunity. For the moment, I'm making the most of the opportunities he's giving me.

"I don't want to take a backward step from here, I'd like to appear regularly in the team and keep going in the same way."

That goal against Fulham made Garnacho, aged 18 years and 135 days at the time, the youngest player to net a 90th-minute Premier League winner since Federico Macheda for United against Aston Villa in April 2009.

United are next in action against Burnley in the EFL Cup fourth round on December 19, before hosting Nottingham Forest in the league eight days later.

Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany joked he would not sign Cristiano Ronaldo as Burnley "need players who can run".

Ronaldo is preparing for the World Cup with Portugal ahead of Thursday's Group H opener against Ghana, though the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will lreturn to club football as a free agent in January.

Manchester United and Ronaldo parted ways by mutual agreement on Tuesday after the forward's exclusive interview with Piers Morgan caused a global stir.

The Portugal captain said he felt "betrayed" by United and had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag before the fractured relationship at Old Trafford came to an abrupt end.

Kompany, now manager of Championship side Burnley, offered a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the situation, suggesting the Clarets would not be interested in signing the 37-year-old.

Asked on the BBC's World Cup coverage whether he would want Ronaldo at Turf Moor, Kompany joked: "We need players who can run."

After discussing Ronaldo's future in a jovial manner, Kompany claimed "everybody loses" after an uncomfortable situation at Old Trafford, barring Ten Hag.

"I think in the end everybody loses except perhaps the Man United manager," added Kompany, who lifted four Premier League titles with fierce rivals City.

"I think it is a problem that has been resolved and they will move on from this."

Fellow pundit and former England striker Alan Shearer believes it will be interesting to see what move Ronaldo takes next, with Chelsea reportedly among the favourites.

"It is a sad end to his Man United career," Shearer said. "He's got his wish, it is what he did the interview for. It was inevitable it was going to happen after that.

"I think it is going to be really interesting to see if a Champions League club comes in for him. Maybe Man United aren't that disappointed either, that was never going to be a match, Ten Hag and him."

The Cristiano Ronaldo saga at Manchester United is finally over. The forward's bombshell interview with Piers Morgan always looked likely to hasten his departure from Old Trafford, an event which came to pass on Tuesday. 

In a wide-ranging conversation, Ronaldo told Morgan he had been "betrayed" by senior figures at United and, perhaps most shockingly of all, that he had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag.

Asked if he felt he was being forced out of United, Ronaldo said: "Yes, not only by the coach, but by another two or three guys around the club that I felt betrayed me.

"I shouldn't say that [they were trying to get rid of me], I don't know, but yes, I feel betrayed. I felt that some people didn't want me here not only this year, but last year too."

If Ronaldo's exit was truly desired by the United hierarchy, they got their wish when the mutual termination of his contract was announced on Tuesday. 

How did it get to this point? Let's look back at Ronaldo's tumultuous second spell with the club with whom he made his name.

August 27, 2021: United announce an agreement with Juventus to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, reportedly beating Manchester City to the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's signature. On August 31, a two-year deal with an option for a third season is completed.

September 11, 2021: His second debut sees Ronaldo face Newcastle United at home, and he marks it in style with a brace in a 4-1 win.

September 29, 2021: Champions League history for Ronaldo as he breaks the record for the most appearances (178) in the competition and fittingly scores a last-gasp winner as United beat Villarreal 2-1.

November 21, 2021: Ronaldo continued to score important goals for United in the Champions League, however, a 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool and a 2-0 loss to City piled the pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. After a 4-1 loss at Watford, the man who brought Ronaldo back to the club is sacked.

November 29, 2021: Ralf Rangnick is appointed as United's interim manager until the end of the season, with the club planning to keep him on for two years in a consultancy role. 

Ronaldo said of Rangnick in his recent interview: "They bring in a sporting director Ralf Rangnick, which is something nobody understands. This guy is not even a coach! A big club like Manchester United bringing in a sporting director surprised not only me but all the world."

December 2, 2021: In Michael Carrick's final game as caretaker manager before Rangnick officially took charge, Ronaldo scored twice in a 3-2 win over Arsenal, netting his 800th and 801st goals in his career for club and country.

February 15, 2022: A goal in a 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion ends the longest drought of Ronaldo's career, one that stretched back to a December 30 defeat of Burnley and took in 588 minutes of football.

 

March 12, 2022: Having missed the Manchester derby because of a hamstring injury, Ronaldo scores a hat-trick on his return in a 3-2 win over Tottenham. The treble takes him to 807 goals, past Josef Bican's all-time record of 805. However, the Czech Republic FA claims Bican actually scored 821.

April 16-23, 2022: A hat-trick against Norwich City marks the 50th treble of Ronaldo's career, and he follows that up a week later with his 100th Premier League goal in a loss to Arsenal, which represented an emotional game for the Portugal international after he and his partner announced the death of their baby son.

April 21, 2022: Erik ten Hag is appointed as United's new manager from the 2022-23 season. On May 16, the Dutchman leaves his role at Ajax early to begin preparations for his new job.

May 22, 2022: United's 2021-22 season ends with the Red Devils in sixth, forcing them to settle for Europa League football. Ronaldo does not feature in their 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace, which rounds off a campaign in which he scored 24 goals but never meshed with Rangnick and his style of football.

July 11, 2022: Despite intense speculation around Ronaldo and agent Jorge Mendes trying to force a transfer away from United, Ten Hag insists Ronaldo is "not for sale".

July 31, 2022: Ronaldo leaves early during United's pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano, along with some other team-mates. Ten Hag slams that decision as "not acceptable".

October 2, 2022: Ronaldo is left on the bench in the 6-3 loss to City, a game in which United trailed 4-0 at half-time. Ten Hag claims the decision was down to his "respect" for Ronaldo’s career.

October 19, 2022: Having refused to enter the game as a substitute, Ronaldo walks down the tunnel during United's 2-0 win over Tottenham. He is suspended by the club three days later.

November 13, 2022: After missing United's EFL Cup clash with Aston Villa due to an apparent illness, Ronaldo is again absent from their squad for the final game before the World Cup break, a 2-1 win at Fulham. Later that day, the first clips from his bombshell interview are released.

 

November 16-17, 2022: Ronaldo's interview for Piers Morgan uncensored is aired across two days. Alongside his criticism of Ten Hag, Ronaldo declares United's owners the Glazer family "do not care" about the club, hits out at the team's younger players, and says former team-mate-turned-critic Wayne Rooney is jealous of his success.

Former United defender Gary Neville calls for the Red Devils to terminate Ronaldo's contract in the aftermath of his comments.

November 18, 2022: United commit to taking "appropriate steps" in response to Ronaldo's comments, intensifying speculation they could end his stay with the club.

November 21, 2022: As Ronaldo prepares for his fifth World Cup campaign with Portugal, he fields questions about his controversial interview for the first time.

"I don't have to worry what others think. I talk when I want to," Ronaldo told reporters, before describing himself as "bulletproof".

November 22, 2022: Two days before Portugal begin their World Cup campaign against Ghana, United announce Ronaldo is to leave the club with "immediate effect".

"Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the team's progress under Erik ten Hag and working together to deliver success on the pitch," read a statement from the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo says it was "the right time to seek a new challenge" after Manchester United announced he was to leave Old Trafford with immediate effect.

Ronaldo caused a storm last week in an exclusive interview with Piers Morgan, in which he said he felt "betrayed" by senior figures at the club and spoke of having no "respect" for manager Erik ten Hag.

United responded by saying they had "initiated appropriate steps" following the interview, and on Tuesday revealed the club and Ronaldo had gone separate ways "by mutual agreement".

Following the news, Ronaldo released a statement of his own, saying: "Following conversations with Manchester United we have mutually agreed to end our contract early.

"I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change. However, it feels like the right time for me to seek a new challenge.

"I wish the team every success for the remainder of the season and for the future."

Mauricio Pochettino acknowledged patience is key for his next managerial opportunity amid previous links to Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Former Paris Saint-Germain coach Pochettino was dismissed from the French capital in July 2022 after failing to deliver Champions League glory with a squad assembled purely for that goal.

Lionel Messi moved to Paris ahead of the 2021-22 season, along with Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Achraf Hakimi, though an abundance of world-class talent crashed out in the last 16 to Madrid.

Pochettino has subsequently been linked to a move to Los Blancos, once Carlo Ancelotti departs, or to United, who preferred Erik ten Hag when the pair were both linked to the Old Trafford role.

When asked by Marca about joining either of those sides in future, the Argentine said: "Soccer is 'timing'. These are the moments for it to coincide and for that marriage to happen. 

"Sometimes it's just a question of time. I don't believe in trains passing only once. I think that sometimes you have to have the necessary patience and you have to know how to wait."

 

The former Southampton and Tottenham boss has previously expressed a subtle interest in managing England should Gareth Southgate leave after the World Cup in Qatar, which starts on Sunday.

Pochettino has a wealth of experience, despite only winning two major trophies – Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France with PSG – though he believes "timing" is everything in football.

"The 'timing' is handled by football, it is true that my name has always been associated with big clubs," he added.

"I have a lot of respect for professionals and it's hard for me to sell myself, that's work for you."

Time away from managing has afforded room for reflection from Pochettino, though he insists he would never re-think his previous decision-making with the likes of PSG and Tottenham.

"It is a good stage to capitalise on all those experiences and have a vision from another place," he continued.

"We always try to have external visions, from the analysis, above all so as not to take things personally and that this external vision has a context. 

"This analysis means that now time does not make us rethink decision-making, it helps us to be better."

Raphael Varane says Manchester United's players have "obviously" been impacted by news of Cristiano Ronaldo's explosive interview.

Speaking to Piers Morgan Uncensored, Ronaldo remarked he felt "betrayed" by senior figures at United and declared he did not respect manager Erik ten Hag, casting serious doubt over his future at Old Trafford.

Clips of the bombshell interview dropped on Sunday following United's 2-1 Premier League victory over Fulham, which Ronaldo missed after informing the club he was unwell.

That was the Red Devils' final match before the World Cup break, though Varane says his team-mates have still been impacted by events concerning Ronaldo.

"Obviously it affects us," Varane told Europe1. "We follow what is happening and what is being said.

"We try to calm the situation in our own way and we try not to get too involved in it. What is happening in the media - in the big clubs things [like this] gain momentum.

"When it's a star like Ronaldo, even more, so we try to take it with distance, that is to say that we do not try to change the situation alone because we are part of a collective."

United released a statement on Monday explaining they would only assess what action to take "after the full facts are established", but with the full interview due to be released on Wednesday, that decision is expected soon.

Varane, who also played with Ronaldo at Real Madrid, declared he would accept whatever decision the club made, adding: "What I want is the best for my team.

"So whatever the decision, as players, we'll accept it and give the best of ourselves."

The World Cup break is "a danger" for Alejandro Garnacho as the rising star's momentum could be stifled, according to Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

Garnacho struck a 93rd-minute winner as a second-half substitute to rescue United a 2-1 victory in Sunday's Premier League contest with Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The Argentina Under-20 international, who is not part of Lionel Scaloni's senior squad for Qatar 2022, now has two goals and two assists in his past four appearances.

While impressed by the youngster's form, Ten Hag is worried five weeks without playing a competitive match could work against Garnacho.

"It is still a long way to go. He has to keep his feet on the ground – it’s the whole team now," Ten Hag said.

"He has to do much more investment as he'll be recognisable for everyone, so it’s much more important to every time confirm it, big players know that, young players don't know.

"Now it's a four-week break, that's already a danger for him because now has momentum. It's good in the season and let's see how he's coming back.

"We have to manage that, manage that with him. His attitude is good and I'm certain he will have an impact. The danger is four weeks, no games, lose focus, less investment.

"It's only when he stays with the same attitude he's shown the last three, four or five weeks that his progress will keep going. If not it goes the other way."

At 18 years and 135 days, Garnacho is the youngest player to net a 90th-minute Premier League winner since Federico Macheda for United against Aston Villa in April 2009.

Daniel James earlier cancelled out Christian Eriksen's opener, making him the 10th different player to score against United in the competition having previously played for them.

United's hard-fought victory in south London was overshadowed later on Sunday when Cristiano Ronaldo revealed in an interview he feels "betrayed" by the club.

Ronaldo has sat out United's past two matches through illness, but Ten Hag expects the superstar forward to be fit in time for Portugal's upcoming World Cup campaign.

Ten Hag, speaking ahead of the Ronaldo interview being released, said: "He's ill, but I don't think it's bad and we are confident [he'll make the World Cup."

United face Burnley in the EFL Cup fourth round on their return to action on December 19, before hosting Nottingham Forest in the league eight days later.

Cristiano Ronaldo says he feels "betrayed" by senior figures at Manchester United and has no respect for the club's head coach Erik ten Hag after enduring a tumultuous season at Old Trafford.

Having top-scored for United with 24 goals in all competitions last term, Ronaldo reportedly asked to leave the club following their failure to qualify for the Champions League, and the 37-year-old has fallen out of favour since Ten Hag took charge ahead of this campaign. 

Ronaldo was temporarily exiled from first-team activities last month after refusing to come on as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Tottenham and has only scored one Premier League goal all season.

Before travelling to Qatar to represent Portugal at his fifth and likely final World Cup, Ronaldo stated his belief that senior figures at Old Trafford – including Ten Hag – want rid of him.

 Asked whether he felt he was being forced out of Old Trafford, Ronaldo told Piers Morgan uncensored: "Yes, not only by the coach but by another two or three guys around the club that I felt betrayed me.

"I shouldn't say that [they were trying to get rid of me], I don't know, but yes, I feel betrayed. I felt that some people didn't want me here not only this year but last year too."

Ten Hag has preferred to hand opportunities to Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Anthony Elanga in United's attack this season, and has only started Ronaldo in four league games.

Last month, Ten Hag said he opted against bringing Ronaldo on in a 6-3 defeat to rivals Manchester City "out of respect", while the Portugal forward was visibly irritated by the Dutchman's decision to substitute him against Newcastle United two weeks later.

Asked about his relationship with Ten Hag, Ronaldo added: "I don't have respect for him because he doesn't show respect for me. 

"If you don't have respect for me, I'm never going to have respect for you."

Erik ten Hag hailed the culture and mentality change at Manchester United after the Red Devils battled to a late Premier League victory at Fulham on Sunday.

Dan James' second-half strike at Craven Cottage seemed set to haunt his former side after Christian Eriksen's opener, but substitute Alejandro Garnacho pounced in the 93rd minute to snatch a 2-1 victory.

United had their backs against the wall for large parts after Eriksen's well-crafted 14th-minute goal, with David de Gea making a string of fine stops from his six saves.

Ten Hag pinpointed the resolute United performance as a characterisation of the transformation within the Red Devils' ranks, highlighting the "togetherness" between the players and the supporters as United look to rebuild.

The Dutchman told Sky Sports: "We have a base, we are going in the right direction. The culture has changed. The mentality has changed. That is good.

"We have improved our football base but the first platform is having a better mentality.

"Together with the fans. We are united. We have togetherness. The dressing room, staff, directors, the whole club and the fans have a togetherness and we have that development."

Garnacho, aged 18 years and 135 days, became the youngest player to score a 90th-minute winner in the Premier League since Federico Macheda against Aston Villa, also for United in April 2009 (17y 226d).

The teenager scored his first United senior goal against Real Sociedad in the Europa League two weeks ago, before recording two assists in the 4-2 EFL Cup win over Villa on Thursday.

While questions remain over the Argentina international's attitude, Ten Hag hailed the impact Garnacho had from the bench once more.

"I would say the last few weeks we had some good choices with subs coming in and having big impacts. Today as well," the Dutchman added. "It was a massive win, really important and I'm really happy with this one.

"You have to balance [Garnacho]. You have to perform under stress and he came in and had a big impact on Thursday. The same again."

Ten Hag, speaking to BBC Sport, referenced the mentality of Garnacho as the winger looks to earn a spot in his starting XI.

"That is fantastic. First he shows the mentality you need. Under stress he's performing, he's coming in, he has an impact, he has the belief," he continued.

"Twice in three, four days, so that is really good. I'm really happy that we can bring a young player up and it shows that when players deserve it they get their chances. That is the first one but we have to bring more.

"He's great. I like that he has a big belief and that's great to work with. He likes football. He's a real pleasure."

United head into the World Cup break three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game more, with the Red Devils' next league outing coming at home to Nottingham Forest on December 27.

Alejandro Garnacho came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner as Manchester United signed off for the World Cup break with a dramatic 2-1 win at Fulham on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag's team hit the front through Christian Eriksen's first United goal early on, but they looked set to be denied by their former winger Dan James when he levelled within two minutes of entering the fray.

Fulham appeared the more likely winners from there as United relied on a string of saves from David de Gea, but Garnacho slotted home three minutes into stoppage time to stun Craven Cottage.

The 18-year-old's composed finish lifted United to within three points of the Premier League's top four, ensuring the Red Devils entered the six-week hiatus in positive mood.

Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of Manchester United's matchday squad for Sunday's Premier League trip to Fulham after struggling with illness. 

Ronaldo captained United in a 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa last week but was absent for Thursday's EFL Cup victory over the same opponents due to feeling unwell.

Erik ten Hag said it was "possible" Ronaldo would be involved in United's final pre-World Cup game at Craven Cottage, insisting the Portugal forward's absence was not influenced by the upcoming tournament in Qatar.

However, the 37-year-old was left out of United's squad, with Anthony Elanga joining Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial – who both scored in Thursday's 4-2 win over Villa – in their attack.

Ten Hag also opted to start left-back Tyrell Malacia in place of suspended right-back Diogo Dalot, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka not included in the squad, while Bruno Fernandes was named captain as Harry Maguire, selected for the World Cup by England manager Gareth Southgate, dropped to the bench after starting on Thursday.

Fulham, meanwhile, were without talismanic striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is facing a battle to be fit for Serbia's World Cup campaign after sustaining a foot injury.

Marcus Rashford thinks Erik ten Hag's tactical approach at Manchester United has helped him cement a turnaround in form this term, ahead of the final Premier League game before the break for the World Cup.

The forward struggled across a difficult 2021-22 campaign at Old Trafford, struggling to hold down a place in the United team and slipping out of the England reckoning.

But a superb start to the new season, with eight goals across 18 matches in all competitions, has seen him emerge at the spearhead of Ten Hag's United revolution.

Rashford certainly feels the Dutchman's arrival has helped reignite his talents and believes it comes down to the shift in play developed by his new manager.

"I am more effective," he told The Sun. "I am in more dangerous positions and that's what it's about for me. I can help the team win games. I can score goals and get assists, and that's the aim.

"It's probably the playing style we have created, better quality of chances and playing forward-thinking football. "He likes possession, but he is also in favour of us going for the kill. I am enjoying my time under him."

A defeat to Aston Villa last week checked United's momentum in the Premier League, though they gained revenge by dumping Unai Emery's side out of the EFL Cup in midweek, with Rashford finding the net again.

Ahead of a trip to Fulham on Sunday in their last match before the World Cup, the forward was determined to ensure there was no further slip-up, adding: "We dropped points last weekend and we can't afford to drop more back-to-back.

"So it's important for us to put in a big performance and get a win. It will be the last time we play together for a while, so it is important to leave with good energy, positive vibes, and momentum. You don't want to leave on a loss."

Rashford will have a busy mid-season break, having been recalled to the England fold by manager Gareth Southgate for the World Cup in Qatar.

The Three Lions get their campaign underway in Group B against Iran on November 21, before further matches against the United States and Wales.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is unsure of Cristiano Ronaldo's availability against Fulham after the forward was struck down by illness this week.

United travel to Craven Cottage in the Premier League on Sunday for their final game before the season halts for the World Cup in Qatar, with questions lingering as to whether players will avoid being involved across the final weekend in order to avoid picking up an injury.

Ten Hag insists that is not the case for United and, though Ronaldo has been under the weather in recent days, it is "possible" he could be involved.

"I think the players are all aware of the importance of the game. We have Fulham, and I will not take the World Cup into regard. We play the best team on Sunday – it's the only interest for Manchester United," Ten Hag told reporters.

"I can't guarantee that now [Ronaldo being available], but he was ill today, so he can recover from that, it's not a really serious illness that takes days or weeks. So I think it's possible that he will be available for Sunday and that he will be in the squad."

Ten Hag was also asked how he would assess the current position of United and outlined his content, though he remains focused on this weekend's game with Fulham.

"I hoped that we would be where we are now, but again, it's better to ask me the question after Sunday. Sunday is going to be a really important game," he added.

"If you look into the progress of the process, then you can analyse and you can make a reflection. I think we have progressed.

"Pressing play out from the back, also attacking the final third, that is part of the game we have to improve, but then you have to have numbers available. When we have so many games, you need rotation. Otherwise, you don't keep the players fresh.

"We need the players who are available at the highest level. So we need new players or to use the players that we have already got."

One of those within the squad who has had limited involvement is Donny van de Beek, but Ten Hag feels there is still a role for the midfielder to play, with a temporary departure not appealing to him.

"I don't think that a loan makes sense. It's either he fights himself, and he proves himself in this atmosphere in this environment, or he goes, but for me, there's still a way for him," he explained.

"There's still chances for him, but it is not going to be easy because the competition there is really strong."

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