Erik Ten Hag has teased that Cristiano Ronaldo is in contention to start for Manchester United against Brentford on Saturday.
Number nine Anthony Martial is still injured, while Victor Lindelof has also been ruled out of the clash, with United looking to recover from a disastrous opening day 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton with inspiration from Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar came on in the 53rd minute against Brighton and looked like United’s most dangerous player, fashioning a golden chance for Marcus Rashford.
However, his return to the fold hasn’t always been on the cards during a disrupted summer in which a departure from Old Trafford looked possible just a year after returning.
Multiple reports claimed the 37-year-old was keen on a move to a side with Champions League football, and his agent Jorge Mendes held discussions with both Bayern Munich and Chelsea.
Neither of those talks came to pass though, with Ronaldo returning from his absence to feature in the opener.
And he may now get an increased role away at Brentford, as revealed by Ten Hag.
“So he had a good training week,” the Dutchman said in his pre-match press conference on Friday. “I thought he played a little bit longer than half an hour.
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“He’s had two half games and for the starting XI we will see tomorrow. My decision [on starting Ronaldo], I keep it.”
In Ronaldo’s absence During pre-season Martial started in Ten Hag’s striker berth and was arguably their best player, scoring three goals.
But a knee injury ruled him out of the Brighton game, and now Brentford.
“Martial will not be available and Lindelof as well, not for this weekend,” Ten Hag said.
The new coach was also asked about how he has prepared for Brentford after a tough opening loss.
He said: “What I always do after every game: I analyse the game, what went well, what went wrong, where can we improve, what do we have to improve, how we can train. And we tell the players and show them how to improve to get solutions.
“We learned a lot but I think it’s normal when you start the season, that part is the same, the team get together, the way we’re playing, new start and you make mistakes. Football is a game of mistakes. We know we have to improve in many things, clear.
“I know there is always pressure. I have the experience, how it is, I know we have to win every game, I know the fans, I know everyone expects Manchester United to win every game, we have to deal with that and all I can do is prepare the team as well as I can this weekend.”
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