City star's frustration over Ronaldo circus shows what Ten Hag has been dealing with all season
Portugal kick off their World Cup campaign on Thursday and they will be glad to finally get underway.
Their preparations have been dominated by the self-inflicted controversy surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo, who chose to attack his club in an interview one week before the tournament.
The speculation over Ronaldo has continued all week, with manager Fernando Santos, winger Joao Mario and United teammate Bruno Fernandes all among those who have been questioned about it in the media.
As the days ahead of Portugal’s opener against Ghana begin to drag, there is a sense of irritation among the Portugal camp that the Ronaldo questions keep on coming.
Manchester City defender Ruben Dias expressed some exasperation at another Ronaldo question when quoted by the media, France 24 reported.
The Portugal star said: “I think we’ve talked about this enough, there’s not much to add. As a team we will focus on the World Cup now and not other issues.
“I don’t think Cristiano’s affairs have put a dent whatsoever into what we are trying to achieve here, so I don’t have much to say about it.”
Ten Hag has been dealing with this all season
The frustration for Portugal’s players dealing with this circus is almost comforting to see from afar.
This is the charade Erik ten Hag has been having to cope with all season, ever since Ronaldo linked back up with the team for the final pre-season game against Rayo Vallecano.
It has felt like Ten Hag and United have been pulling in one direction, and Ronaldo has been pulling in another. The club have now announced the Portuguese star’s departure.
Two of the most satisfying wins of the season, at home to Tottenham and away at Fulham, have been overshadowed by Ronaldo’s off field actions.
Most of Ten Hag’s own press conferences have been dominated by questions about Ronaldo. It has been a big distraction, using up the manager’s mental energy to deal with all this.
Is Ronaldo worth it? Not to United this season, not when he openly admits to lacking motivation.
United have done well this season to secure strong results despite the Ronaldo distraction. Now Portugal face the same hurdle to attempt to negotiate.
Whether they can, is down to them and their manager. Erik ten Hag has shown it can be done.