Dutch legend ‘surprised’ by Ten Hag claims ‘controversial episode’ won over Man Utd players

Lewis Oldham
Ten Hag praised by pundit

Dutch legend Ruud Gullit has admitted he’s been “surprised” by how good of a job Erik ten Hag has done since taking over at Man Utd.

Ten Hag became Man Utd’s new head coach last summer. The Dutchman has not had the easiest of jobs but he has rightly been lauded for the work he has done this season.

The ex-Ajax boss has ended Man Utd’s trophy drought as they have lifted the Carabao Cup. They also remain in contention for the FA Cup and Europa League.

Man Utd started the 2022/23 campaign poorly and the Cristiano Ronaldo saga added to their troubles.

The veteran attacker was often a bit-part player under Ten Hag and he refused to be brought on as a substitute on a couple of occasions.

The Premier League club opted to release Ronaldo from his contract after his controversial interview with Piers Morgan aired. He hit out at Ten Hag, Ralf Rangick and several of his former teammates during his tirade. 

Gullit thinks Ten Hag’s handling of the Ronaldo situation “won over the dressing room and the fans”.

“I’m surprised, we’re all surprised, with Erik ten Hag at Manchester United,” Gullit told A Bola (via Sport Witness).

“The Dutch Eredivisie does not have the same levels of competitiveness as the Premier League, perhaps the most attractive championship in world football, but the truth is that he was able to impose a work philosophy and the playing formula that he advocates.

“Personally, I think that the very controversial episode with Cristiano Ronaldo ended up benefiting him. At that moment, with what he said and did, he won over the dressing room and the fans. The results confirm it.”

When asked about Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, Gullit added: “That’s what Cristiano decided! His time at Manchester United, after the run-ins with Erik ten Hag, ran out of steam. In the end, the situation turned out to benefit both of them. Cristiano is happy where he is, Erik ten Hag too, they both won.”

Ronaldo is featuring for Portugal during this international break. He has now admitted that his final few months at Man Utd were a “bad phase of his career”.

“I have no problem saying I had a bad phase of my career, but there’s no time for regrets,” Ronaldo said during a press conference earlier this week.

“Life goes on and, doing well or not, it was part of my growth. When we are at the top of the mountain, we often cannot see what is below.

“Now, I’m more prepared and learning that was important, because I had never been through this, like in the last few months. Now I’m a better man.”

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