Last Wednesday night’s MATCH at Old Trafford still had a few minutes left. Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag has just introduced Christian Eriksen and Anthony Elanga as substitutes. However, Cristiano Ronaldo, feeling there was no more chance to play, chose to leave the bench and stepped into the dressing room.
The moment he was withdrawn against Newcastle United and only sat on the bench against Tottenham Hotspur was very painful for the captain of the Portuguese team. Ronaldo increasingly feels that at the age of 37, his big name is slowly fading.
It’s not that there is no longer a role that Ronaldo can play for the ‘Red Devils, but age makes the football superstar begin to lose his speed and sharpness. Some of the golden opportunities he got against Newcastle always failed to become goals.
Ronaldo was also frustrated by the fact that some of the mature opportunities he got always failed to become goals. However, when he was later pulled out, Ronaldo could not hide his disappointed expression. Old Trafford that used to make him a star, now puts himself as a loser.
Coach Ten Hag insists he is more concerned with team togetherness than big names. Especially this Saturday night, the Red Devils must travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. Ten Hag without hesitation decided not to bring Ronaldo to London, following his attitude of not keeping the team together.
Ronaldo via his social media apologized for his unprofessional attitude. “Since the beginning of my career, I have always maintained professionalism. I have always respected my fellow players as well as the coach. I want to set a good example for young players, how a player behaves. Therefore, I continue to train at Carrington and continue to give my best for United,” said Ronaldo.
TEN Hag asks all players to concentrate on tonight’s match. All of that is based not only on the tough opponents to face, but also the new Chelsea coach, Graham Potter, who is the man who brought nightmares to Manchester United at the start of the competition.
Potter was able to turn Brighton & Hove Albion into a dark horse this season. The ‘Red Devils’ were forced to swallow the bitter pill 1-2 in front of their own supporters at Old Trafford. Don’t be surprised when Chelsea face problems with coach Thomas Tuchel, the choice the owners make the Blues was to drag Potter to Stamford Bridge.
Like Ten Hag, Potter is also a believer in the importance of teamwork. He does not want to depend on big names, but prefers the most suitable players to be able to reduce the opponents he has to face.
Especially before the meeting to face the ‘Red Devils’ many players who suffered injuries. Potter had to lose N’Golo Kante who underwent hamstring surgery. Chelsea are also confirmed to have lost Jorginho in midfield due to injury.
Reece James was certainly not able to appear to maintain the defense on the right. Meanwhile, the spearhead of Kai Havertz is considered by Potter to have decreased in appearance so that it is not optimal to support the team.
For that, Potter prepares striker from the United States Christian Pulisic as a starter up front. Pulisic has always appeared as a substitute and was able to change the team’s game.
“As a coach, I don’t always make the right decisions. However, I ask the players to understand the decisions I made for the common good, including the decision to start Pulisic early, because he proved to be sharp, especially when he was in the opponent’s penalty box. ‘ said Potter.
With Mateo Kovacic being the general in midfield and Mason Mount in charge of the attack, Potter hopes Chelsea’s performances can be better. At least he hoped for an attack the Blues not barren as when held by Brighton 0-0 mid-week.
Meanwhile, at the back, Potter who revived the confidence of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was satisfied with the performance of the Spaniard. So far, Kepa has only been the second goalkeeper for Eduard Mendy and without any healthy competition, Mendy’s strength has decreased.
Towards the Champions League
The meeting of the two best Premier League teams is expected to be fierce because it will determine their journey to the Champions League. All clubs are trying to at least penetrate the top four because that is the ticket to appear in the Europa League competition.
Ten Hag is increasingly eager to win the match because the result will not only bring the ‘Red Devils’ through to the top four, but smooth the transformation he is doing. Since Sir Alex Ferguson left, Manchester United has lost its greatness. The poor performance in the last decade has further undermined the confidence of the players.
The Dutch coach who successfully rebuilt Ajax Amsterdam needed time to restore the greatness of the ‘Red Devils’. However, a 2-0 victory over Spurs this mid-week became the capital for Bruno Fernandes and his friends to be able to restore the greatness of Manchester United.
So far, there have been three Big Six clubs that Manchester United can beat, namely Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs. If tonight can reduce Chelsea, it means the ‘Red Devils’ are on the right track to regain their glory.
Ten Hag is not worried about not bringing Ronaldo to Stamford Bridge. He considered Marcus Rashford able to play a better role to liven up the ‘Red Devils’ game.
“Just look at when Rashford came on for Ronaldo against Newcastle. He made the attack livelier in the last 10 minutes and he created some chances. That’s what I need more in rebuilding United,” said Ten Hag.
One more thing that Ten Hag still needs to fix is an attack from the left wing. The ‘Red Devils’ need a bolder winger to cut into the box and curl a shot at the far post like Anthony. Jadon Sancho who fills the position very rarely makes such action from the left wing.
Sancho has not shown the best game like when he was still defending Borussia Dortmund. In fact, the ‘Red Devils’ pulled him from Dortmund in the hope of replacing the role that was once done by Ryan Giggs.
If only Anthony Martial wasn’t entangled in injury, Rashford could be relied on to fill the left wing to compensate for Anthony’s game. The limping of the attack from the wings finally made the onslaught of Manchester United never optimal.
With Chelsea being hit by injuries to many players and still in the process of rebuilding the team, Manchester United have a great chance of stealing a win tonight. If Ten Hag’s side can optimize the pace they have, the hope of breaking into the top four is not something impossible to achieve even if it has to be done at Stamford Bridge.