Ralf Rangnick must be 'careful' in ensuring Cristiano Ronaldo remains on side, warns Owen Hargreaves

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Ralf Rangnick must be ‘careful’ in ensuring Cristiano Ronaldo remains on side, warns Owen Hargreaves – after Manchester United star was substituted during 3-1 Brentford win

  • Manchester United won 3-1 at Brentford in the Premier League on Wednesday 
  • Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted during in the 71st minute of United’s win 
  • The Portuguese star was not happy at the decision though and was visibly upset 


Owen Hargreaves has warned Ralf Rangnick of his management style with Cristiano Ronaldo following Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Brentford on Wednesday night.

With the Red Devils 2-0 in front, Rangnick decided to substitute Ronaldo in the 71st minute – much to the Portuguese superstar’s visible frustration.

Rangnick tried to play down the incident post match and that he made the decision based on the ‘interests of the team’. However, Hargreaves believes he must keep his former team-mate on side if United are to salvage their disappointing season.

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) was unhappy with Ralf Rangnick after being substituted vs Brentford

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) was unhappy with Ralf Rangnick after being substituted vs Brentford

Ronaldo was visibly frustrated after being subbed in the 71st-minute for Manchester United

Ronaldo was visibly frustrated after being subbed in the 71st-minute for Manchester United

‘I don’t think Ralf will be taking Cristiano off again any time soon,’ the ex-United and England midfielder said in his post-match analysis for Optus Sport.

‘Ronnie let him know, “Just keep me on, I’m fit, I’m probably the greatest athlete at 36 years old in the world”. He doesn’t want to be taken off.

‘He knows there’s a game in three days, but obviously he is frustrated because he knew there were goals out there.

‘Rangnick has to be careful, because he has dropped the club captain Harry Maguire, Ronnie is on his side but he was frustrated that he came off, there is no need to take him off. You want to keep Cristiano on side if you can.’

On the decision, Rangnick said: ‘The only reaction I got was him asking me, “Why me, why did you take me off?”. I said to him, “Listen, I have to take the decision in the interests of the team and the club”,’ the United interim boss explained.

‘We had exactly the same situation five days ago at Villa Park. Being 2-0 up, 15 minutes to play. Of course, we didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

Owen Hargreaves has warned Rangnick not to alienate Ronaldo for the morale within United

Owen Hargreaves has warned Rangnick not to alienate Ronaldo for the morale within United

‘I decided to switch to a back five with Harry Maguire and bring on Marcus as another fast winger on the right side. I think it was the right decision.

‘But Cristiano was not happy. He’s a goalscorer, he would’ve wished to stay on and score a goal himself. But for us it was more important to be compact, to make sure we have enough legs and enough strong headers to defend their free kicks and set pieces.

‘When we scored the third goal I said exactly that to him. I said, “Look, Cristiano, I understand that you are still ambitious and you want to score yourself. Maybe in a couple of years when you are a head coach yourself and hopefully you’ll take the same decision, be in the same role that I was in today after 75 minutes”.

‘As I said, what I realised was exactly what happened. I didn’t expect him to hug me after being substituted. I know how goalscoring players think and how they tick but I have to take my decisions in the interest of the team and the club. This is exactly what I told him.

‘I have no issues with Cristiano. He’s come back from a little injury, he didn’t train for one-and-a-half weeks, being 2-0 up with 15 minutes to play, having players like Marcus and Anthony Martial on the bench, why should I not make use of that? That’s why I would always do it again in a situation like that.

‘I’ve been here now for six weeks I’ve not had any kind of issue with Cristiano. We spoke before the Villa FA Cup game and before the league game he told me he had a little issue with his hip flexor and we agreed between the two of us it would be better to make sure he has no problems with that kind of injury any more, that’s why he was not part of the squad in those two games. 

‘Today he was available again, that’s why I played him from the start. No issues whatsoever. For the future, it’s just important for any player that we win games, this is first.’

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