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Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo's stern message to Man Utd: I don't accept anything less than top three

08:17 IST 13/01/2022
Cristiano Ronaldo 2021-22
The Portuguese superstar has grown accustomed to being successful and admits that he is not at Old Trafford to finish “in sixth place”

Cristiano Ronaldo has warned those around him at Manchester United that he will not accept anything less than a top-three standing this season, with a five-time Ballon d’Or winner pointing out that he is not about to settle for “sixth place or seventh place”.

A modern day superstar has grown accustomed to competing for major honours over the course of an illustrious career that has delivered trophy triumphs aplenty in England, Spain and Italy.

The Portuguese icon will be turning 37 on February 5, with many starting to slow down by this point, but ambition burns as bright as ever for an all-time great and he is urging his team-mates at Old Trafford to raise collective standards in what has been an inconsistent 2021-22 campaign.

What has been said?

With United currently sat seventh in the Premier League table, six points adrift of the top four but boasting games in hand, Ronaldo has told Sky Sports: "I don't accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League.

"I think to build up good things, sometimes you have to destroy a few things. So why not - new year, new life and I hope that Manchester [United] can be the level that the fans want. They deserve that.

"We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I'm not going to mention it here because I don't think it's ethical on my part to say that.

"What I can say is we can do better - all of us. Manchester [United] belongs to important things, so we have to change that.

"I don't want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I'm here to try to win, to compete.

"I think we compete but we are not yet in our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things."

The bigger picture

Part of the problem for United is that the current campaign has delivered more change on and off the field, with continuity and stability proving hard to come by.

Alongside the fresh faces snapped up last summer, Ralf Rangnick has taken over managerial duties on an interim basis following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Asked about the impact of coaching tweaks on efforts to build momentum, Ronaldo added: "Not easy to be honest. We changed Ole, then [Michael] Carrick [caretaker manager], then this new coach. It's difficult when you change so much, it's always tough.

"It's always sad and tough. Ole used to play with me before and now he was the coach. A fantastic person. When he left everybody was sad, but it's part of football.

"When things don't go the way the club wants, the club has to change. I was disappointed but we have to understand the club. It was difficult but life continues.

"But I still believe that we are capable of doing a good season. We know it's going to take time to make the ideas of the new coach on the pitch.

"But I'm looking forward. We have to work hard, we have to be together as players. We know we are not in the best moment, but I believe with working hard we can achieve important things, even this year."

Will Ronaldo return against Aston Villa?

The Portuguese missed United's 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup but says that he hopes to be back in time for the Premier League clash against the same opponents on January 15.

"I'm good," he told Premier League Productions. "I just have a little touch but, you know, it's part of my work.

"You know, we have to feel some pain sometimes. It's nothing big and I hope to be good soon.

"I hope so (that he'll be able to play against Villa). We will try on Thursday. I will try to train as normal. Let's see how the body reacts. Fingers crossed. I'm confident."

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