Cristiano Ronaldo’s worst Man United fear may have been realized after Erik ten Hag appointment – James Findlater

Speculation over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United looks set to rumble on as we head into the summer transfer window.

The 37-year-old still has a year remaining on his deal at Old Trafford after returning to United last summer, and he has been a rare bright spark in an otherwise dismal season as he’s continued his remarkable goalscoring exploits. But that might not be enough to convince him to stay for that remaining year.

Having failed to qualify for the Champions League, United could even find themselves dropping into the Europa Conference League on the final day of the season, with West Ham sitting just two points behind them in the table. Having finished second last year, they now face the possibility of finishing the current campaign as low as seventh.

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And that certainly doesn’t match Ronaldo’s ambitions. The Portuguese ace has already made his expectations for United clear, and the club are certain to finish well below them.

“I do not want to be here in a club to fight for sixth place or seventh place or fifth,” Ronaldo declared earlier in the season. Five months on from giving that interview, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner finds himself preparing for a fight to finish sixth.

His worst fears have been realized, and even the arrival of Erik ten Hag as manager this summer may not be enough to convince him to stay. Ronaldo has suggested he is “excited” by the Dutchman’s arrival, while Ten Hag has made it clear he wants to keep the former Real Madrid star, but there’s no guarantee that United’s predicament will improve any time soon.

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While Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola remain in charge of Liverpool and Manchester City respectively, a title challenge certainly doesn’t seem likely for United in the near future. From being tipped to be title challengers at the start of the current season, the expectations have been severely lowered ahead of Ten Hag’s arrival.

Former United captain Gary Neville has already set out what United need to achieve under the 52-year-old, including his challenge over the next couple of years. “I said four to five years to win the title… it will be (qualification for) the Champions League in the first two seasons while he is sorting the recruitment out and getting used to the club,” Neville said at the start of the month.

“The third season, getting very close (to winning the title) to the point whereby the club are confident they can win a trophy. And then that fourth, fifth year really is when they have to win a title, realistically.”

The question for Ronaldo now is whether he wants to be part of that project. Having already spent a year at a club that has fallen way below his expectations, will he be willing to spend another year simply trying to finish in the top four?

He has already made it clear that, in his eyes, that isn’t good enough. “Manchester United should win the league, or be in second or third,” Ronaldo said earlier in the season.

“I don’t see other positions for Manchester United, to be honest, I don’t see it. In my eyes, I don’t accept that our mentality is less than to be in the top three in the Premier League, in my opinion.”

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On that basis, Ten Hag could have quite the job on his hands convincing Ronaldo to stay at Old Trafford this summer. With many expecting it to be at least a few years before the club can challenge for major honors once again, it could prove too long for his liking of him.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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