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Erik ten Hag has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘impossible’ Manchester United challenge

Erik ten Hag has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘impossible’ Manchester United challenge

In January 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo questioned the mentality of Manchester United. The Portuguese forward made specific reference to the top three sides in the Premier League at that point – and suggested that the club would not be able to compete at the top end of the table without a stronger mentality.

Now, one year later, the Reds – led by Erik ten Hag – are the only side in the top flight still competing on all four fronts, with a chance of both league and cup success this term. Ronaldo, meanwhile, pushed for an exit over the summer and eventually moved on last November following his controversial interview.

Following United‘s nightmare start to the season – losing to both Brighton and Brentford – there was a general consensus that it could take Ten Hag a bit of time to transform the club’s fortunes.

However, the Dutchman has galvanised United in recent months and the Reds currently find themselves in third position in the table. His side are 10 league games unbeaten at Old Trafford and are just two points behind rivals Manchester City. It is a stark contrast to the disappointing months Ralf Rangnick endured at the club.

Last year, Ronaldo was asked by Sky Sports whether United could hope to close the gap on their top-four rivals without the correct mentality. The veteran forward was stern in his response and made it very clear what his personal opinion was.

“Impossible – I think it’s the main point,” he replied. “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 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 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.”

United ended last season in sixth position – something that Ronaldo insisted he was not prepared to settle for. The club went without a trophy once again and it appeared as though Ten Hag would need to work miracles in order to transform an underperforming side who were lacking in confidence.

Considering the Reds’ current standing, then, the Dutchman, and his players, deserve a lot of credit. They have the chance to end their trophy drought when they face Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley later this month, and Champions League qualification should certainly be achieved given the club’s current position.

The 2-2 draw with Leeds on Wednesday night was disappointing – especially because Ten Hag’s men could have increased the gap between themselves and the Magpies – but the fact the Reds were able to come from behind to draw the game shows the improvement in the players’ mentality. They are now frustrated drawing matches, and that shows how far they have come.

Erik ten Hag has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo's 'impossible' Manchester United challenge
Erik ten Hag has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘impossible’ Manchester United challenge
Erik ten Hag has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo's 'impossible' Manchester United challenge
Erik ten Hag has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘impossible’ Manchester United challenge

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