Erik ten Hag explains why Cristiano Ronaldo is captaining Manchester United against Aston Villa

Erik ten Hag has explained why Cristiano Ronaldo is captaining Manchester United against Aston Villa today at Villa Park.

Since being reintegrated into the side after refusing to come on against Tottenham Hotspur and leaving Old Trafford while his teammates were beating Antonio Conte’s Spurs, the 37-year-old has started the last four games.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is two goals away from scoring his 500th league goal.

The debacle against Spurs came 18 days ago, but it seems like United’s number seven is deemed the vice-vice-captain with Harry Maguire on the bench and Bruno Fernandes missing out through suspension.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

The former Juventus man will be hoping to continue his formidable record against Unai Emery.

Ronaldo has scored 22 goals in 16 games against the Spaniard’s sides and the Portuguese captain will be hoping to score in his sixth consecutive game against Emery.

Ronaldo has also scored eight Premier League goals against the Villains and having missed the trip to Birmingham in January due to a hip flexor injury when Ralf Rangnick was in charge, United’s legendary number seven is making his first appearance at Villa Park in 14 years.

Erik ten Hag explains why Cristiano Ronaldo is captaining Manchester United

Speaking to BBC Sport and expanding on his team selection, Ten Hag said: “Nothing changed, when you are captain and leader you have to set an example and that is what I expect from him.

“He is an important part of the squad; we are happy with him and now he has to take even more of the leader role.”

Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

The former Ajax boss also explained his decision to hand Alejandro Garnacho his first Premier League start for the Red Devils having scored his first senior goal against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

The 52-year-old said: “He had two good performances in the Europa League, now he has to do it in the league.

“It is the same, 11 v 11, but the Premier League intensity is something he has to match. I have faith in him he will do good.”

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.