Erik ten Hag had to dodge mines laid by Cristiano Ronaldo during his first months
March 5, 2023 09:20 AM
Erik ten Hag had to 'walk through minefields' in his first few months at Manchester United as he dealt with the explosive Cristiano Ronaldo situation, according to close confidants of the manager, a British daily states.
The club was in such a mess, ex-United manager Louis van Gaal attempted to persuade Ten Hag not to accept the job last summer.
But the Dutch coach took up the challenge despite knowing his methods would likely bring him on a collision course with the Portuguese star.
So it proved, with Ten Hag dropping Ronaldo to the United bench after they were humiliated 4-0 by Brentford in their second Premier League game of the season.
Ronaldo then refused to come on as a substitute in a home win over Tottenham before storming down the Old Trafford tunnel before the final whistle.
The final straw came when Ronaldo accused Ten Hag of 'betraying' him and took aim at the club during his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan.
That led to his United exit and Ten Hag's side have gone from strength to strength without him, winning the club's first silverware in six years by lifting the Carabao Cup last weekend.
Hans Kraay, a close friend and former team-mate of Ten Hag at De Graafschap who is now a broadcaster in Holland, described the tense situation when he arrived at United.
'Erik deserves this success at United. People do not realise that he had to walk through minefields at United in his first five months,' he told the Daily Mirror.
'It was chaos at the club for a start - and there were the mines laid by Cristiano Ronaldo. Erik went to United because he saw the potential and the challenge.
'You know what Van Gaal said to Ten Hag, don't you? "Erik, it is one big mess at United, don't go there."
'But Erik did, he did not mind sorting it all out and didn't mind walking around Cristiano's landmines.
'What is great about Erik is that he is down to earth and never wants to be a flash manager like some managers.