Roy Keane believes Erik ten Hag may have to ‘stroke the ego’ of Cristiano Ronaldo, which may be the best option for Manchester United to ‘survive’ this season.
It’s not been the easiest of starts to life as United manager for Ten Hag, who replaced interim boss Ralf Rangnick at the helm this summer.
The club have signed Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez, but their long chase of Frenkie de Jong looks to have ended in disappointment and they continue to be linked with a number of forward players but appear no closer to securing a deal.
Talks are ongoing with Adrien Rabiot over a move tothe club, but Ten Hag will want further additions as he targets a top four place this season.
And frustration in the transfer market has been added to by fan protests against the Glazer ownership, an opening day defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford and continued speculation over the future of Ronaldo.
The Portugal international missed the majority of preseason as he angled for a move away, but is currently stuck with United, who don’t want to sell him even if there were buyers interested, which there aren’t.
And Keane says the Ronaldo rumours are toublesome for Ten Hag, who can either “put a marker down” and move the striker on, or “stroke his ego” in the hope his behaviour will improve and he’ll continue to score goals.
“There is obviously something amiss, not just with Ronaldo missing pre-season due to what he said were family reasons,” Keane told the Off The Ball podcast.
“He has made it clear that he wants to leave and play in the Champions League but these things happen. When you are a manager, you don’t go looking for trouble but trouble comes your way and I think this is a situation the manager has got to deal with and that is what they are paid to do.
“I would say that if they move Ronaldo on in the next week or two, then the manager has put a marker down and it is fine, United will survive. They would need one or two replacements in because they can’t guarantee with [Anthony] Martial.
“If he puts his foot down and says: ‘You are staying because we want 20-odd goals from you,’ I think that can be done as well. I don’t think it is a case of everyone saying: ‘Ronaldo, you have got to get rid of him,’ you have got to manage the situation.
“He might say to Ronaldo : ‘We need you, we need your goals, we are short of a squad.’ Okay his body language towards the end of last season wasn’t great, he has to improve on that.
“You have got to stroke his ego a little bit and his behaviour has to improve as a senior player but I think if United decide, if the deal suits everybody, you can let him go. But I don’t think United are in a position to allow a player who guarantees you 20 goals to walk out the door.”