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Cristiano Ronaldo

Is there pressure at Man Utd to pick Ronaldo? Former assistant to Ferguson & Solskjaer discusses selection poser

14:36 EAT 20/10/2022
Ronaldo 2022-23
Cristiano Ronaldo will always be centre of attention of Manchester United, but Mike Phelan says no manager is ever pressured to pick the Portuguese.
  • Portuguese struggling for minutes under Ten Hag
  • Had wanted to leave over the summer
  • Having to accept support role in 2022-23 season

WHAT HAPPENED? The five-time Ballon d’Or winner continues to make headlines in 2022-23 despite seeing limited game time under Erik ten Hag. He has taken in just two Premier League starts this season and stormed down the tunnel towards the end of a meeting with Tottenham after finding himself stuck on the bench.

WHAT THEY SAID: Quizzed by Stadium Astro on whether coaches feel under pressure to select an all-time great, Phelan – who has worked alongside Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford – said: “No. No, not really, not to the point that it (the suggestion) was made. When I talk about the noise and the outside influences, then yes. There is a lot of talk about (him). If Cristiano plays and he scores, Manchester United win. If he doesn’t play and we lose, then Cristiano should have played. That will always be there and you can’t avoid that. But, from our point of view, every manager and every coach talks only about winning the game of football. And how you are going to do that. That is the hardest thing. So you pick the best team and the best players to help you try to do that.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Questions continue to be asked of Ronaldo’s ongoing presence following his push for the exits over the summer, with a January move being speculated on, but Ten Hag is playing cards close to his chest. He told Amazon Prime after seeing the 37-year-old storm off the bench against Spurs: “I don’t pay attention today, we deal with that tomorrow.”

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR RONALDO? United will be back in Premier League action on Saturday when taking in a trip to Chelsea, with it yet to be determined whether Ronaldo – who boasts an uncharacteristically poor record against the Blues – will feature in that contest at Stamford Bridge.