Erik ten Hag has already shown he is perfect manager to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo exit
Erik ten Hag has been dealt an early problem he probably did not expect so soon into his Manchester United tenure: Cristiano Ronaldo wants to quit, per BBC Sport.
Ten Hag will not have been naive enough to think this couldn’t happen, but his press conference suggested he was looking forward to working with Ronaldo.
As it happens, Ten Hag is the perfect manager to deal with Ronaldo’s potential departure.
Repeatedly at Ajax he has shown an ability to cope with the loss of key players, and arguably get even better.
Ten Hag is perfect manager to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo exit
Erik ten Hag has had to deal with having the heart of his team ripped out at Ajax. And each time he made them stronger.
The loss of Frenkie de Jong in 2019 was the first blow. The same summer he lost Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech, two major contributors to the team which reached the Champions League semi-finals.
In De Jong’s place, he was able to bring through Ryan Gravenberch into his midfield from Ajax’s academy. He then signed Lisandro Martinez and Antony as replacements for De Ligt and Ziyech.
He did not let the departures of key players affect what he was trying to create, a team who played football the way he wanted them to, and a squad who totally believed in his methods.
In 2020, Ajax lost Donny van de Beek, another solid contributor to his team, while Barcelona swooped in for promising right-back Sergino Dest.
During his time at Ajax, Ten Hag handed debuts to a staggering 23 academy players. This faith in youth underpins his philosophy, and fits well with Manchester United’s traditions.
He is also willing to spend when he needs to, returning to former club Utrecht to sign Sebastien Haller when he needed a striker. He is not afraid of making big decisions.
When it has come to signing replacements, he has done so in a very cost-effective manner too. Rather than utilise the £69.5 million he received for Matthijs de Ligt, he was able to spend just £6.5 million of it on Lisandro Martinez, turning him into a star.
Ten Hag will get more resources at Manchester United, but what he has shown at Ajax, is whoever he signs and whatever they cost, he usually gets the absolute maximum out of them.
Cristiano Ronaldo has not even had a single training session under Ten Hag yet, and so his departure will not throw his preparations drastically off course.
There is still plenty of time for Ten Hag to pivot and sign a replacement or two, and coach them up to play in the way he wants to. It may be far easier to for the manager to teach a young, more malleable player, than a 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo.
Losing Ronaldo will be a blow for United. Yet by bringing in Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils have the perfect boss to deal with his exit.