THE SPIRIT at Manchester United’s Bangkok and Australia camp indicated a positive new start for the club.
While Erik ten Hag pointed out that tours like this have their downside in terms of travel etc, he felt the two and a half weeks together would help players re-bond.
He could feel how dejected everyone was after the end of last season and wanted to put smiles back on everyone’s faces.
The new boss seemed to have succeeded.
The social media posts from players having fun and indeed the achievements looked like the dark clouds were gone.
Questions about Ronaldo kept coming but he wasn’t there and Ten Hag enjoyed working with the players he had.
Then they came back and it all exploded again and the work done in the preseason seems to have been washed away.
Ronaldo, 37, is such a huge figure at the club that his vibe seems to permeate the camp.
He’s clearly not in a good mood.
After missing the tour, his first action came in a friendly at Old Trafford against Rayo Vallecano.
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He missed an early chance, then there was a bizarre passage of the game when James Garner passed the ball to him halfway and Ronaldo returned it straight.
He did that four times in total, Garner, who is now closed, passed the ball sideways to someone else.
Ronaldo and the manager had a few words that half as he called the players to his technical area during a break in play.
Ronaldo’s reaction to the instructions he was given was to stretch his hands to his sides in what appeared to be a protest.
Things didn’t look good and he was hooked at half-time and left the stadium before the end of the game.
For a manager who had preached “togetherness” throughout the tour, this was “unacceptable”.
On the training ground, his brooding personality brings some players down.
Many of the younger ones who were excited at his arrival often feel intimidated by his presence.
The immediate problem is that without him United have no recognized striker.
Anthony Martial missed the first game with a hamstring problem and while he had a good pre-season it remains to be seen if that will translate into the Premier League.
Their inexplicable and short-lived pursuit of former Stoke and West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic from Bologna was abandoned when a £7.6million offer was rejected.
They would no longer pay and the outcry of the supporters also had a say in their about-face.
Ten Hag tried to play Christian Eriksen as a false nine against Brighton and it just didn’t work.
When Ronaldo came on United looked better, but not by much.
While there were cheers when he entered the field, there were also boos.
The group waiting above the tunnel as Ronaldo walked away at the end made a gesture as if to say, “Just go.”
The problem is that Ten Hag may have no choice but to play him against Brentford in the next game.
Hopes pinned on someone who doesn’t want to be there – how did a club the size of Manchester United get into such a mess?
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5965938/ten-hag-man-utd-relying-on-cristiano-ronaldo-comment/ Ten Hag need Cristiano Ronaldo who is desperate to leave Man Utd and missed team building on the pre-season tour