Ralf Rangnick believes Cristiano Ronaldo could have a role at Manchester United next season under Erik ten Hag.
Ronaldo scored his 24th goal of the season in the 3-0 win over Brentford and is two goals shy of the 26 he tallied in his previous season with United in 2008-09 when he turned 24 years old.
Now 37, Ronaldo is only behind Heung Son-min and Mohamed Salah in the Premier League scoring charts and he appeared to say, “I’m not finished” during United players’ lap of honour.
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Ronaldo’s doubters have quietened amid his form of nine goals in his last five league games and Ronaldo is contracted to United for another year.
“The way that he played again tonight, not only because he scored a goal but he also won the penalty and helped defensively tonight, so why should he not be a player who could still be part of the squad and help the team?” Rangnick said.
“But this is a question you have to ask Erik when he is here and it is also important how Cristiano sees himself and his position.
“Cristiano is not a central striker, he also does not want to play in that position. In order to not play central, you have to play with two strikers as we did in the last 15 minutes or in my first game against Crystal Palace or the second one against Norwich, and even in the second-half against Newcastle.
“But if you look at international football, there are not many top teams who play with two strikers. Most of the international top teams either play with three strikers or a false nine, so for me it’s not a question of position, it’s a question of what kind of quality players Manchester United have in the future.”
Rangnick was pleased with United’s performance against Brentford and it is still mathematically possible for them to finish fourth, despite the club all but conceding in the race for Champions League qualification.
Bruno Fernandes put United 1-0 up at the pause against Brentford before summer signings Ronaldo and Raphael Varane registered for their 10th home win in the league this term.
“We also had some good home games but they were a couple of weeks ago,” Rangnick noted. “I think tonight we showed probably one of our best performances in the last six months in possession of the ball. We had 73 or 74% possession in the first-half and 65 in the end. High passing accuracy of 91% and this was for me, the reason why we controlled the game in the last areas of the game.
“It also had to do with the players on the pitch, with three creative central midfielders on the pitch with Juan Mata, Bruno and Nemanja Matic. Whenever we played the ball behind their backline, whenever we increased speed and were not just playing possession for the sake of possession we had our moments, this is how we scored our first goal. Even the very narrow offside position of Cristiano would’ve been the second goal.
“That’s why we were in control of most of the game. We had a few gaps defensively but in general, I was pleased with the performance that we showed tonight.”