Southampton win proved Man Utd still need Cristiano Ronaldo, claims Paul Scholes | Football

Cristiano Ronaldo started Saturday's win over Southampton on the bench

Cristiano Ronaldo started Saturday’s win over Southampton on the bench (Picture: Getty)

Paul Scholes believes Manchester United’s performance in their 1-0 win over Southampton proved Cristiano Ronaldo still has a role to play in Erik ten Hag’s squad.

The 37-year-old started on the bench for the third time this season and was only introduced as a midway through the second period with his side clinging to the advantage they held thanks to an expertly taken Bruno Fernandes goal.

Ronaldo laboured in testing conditions and was alarmingly outplaced late on by Saints defender Mohammed Salisu during the closing stages when he was leading a promising counter attack.

Despite his apparent lethargy and unsuitability to Ten Hag’s pressing style, Scholes feels Ronaldo will offer a much needed alternative to the speedy forwards Ten Hag currently has at his disposal.

Scholes told BT Sport: ‘I thought looking at the game today they needed Cristiano he could have been that focal point in the team.

‘They really lacked a focal point centrally and Cristiano is more of focal point these days. You get to 37 years of age you’re not going to go sprinting away from people, he is very good at holding the ball up and getting on the end of crosses, whereas Martial is totally different.

‘There will be times when different players are needed. I hope Cristiano doesn’t go but if he does I think they’re going to need a centre forward.’

Bruno Fernandes scored Manchester United's winning goal against Southampton

Bruno Fernandes scored Manchester United’s winning goal against Southampton (Picture: Getty)

Asked if could understand why Ronaldo was currently out of favour, another of his former teammates Rio Ferdinand argued it was understandable that Ten Hag was searching to put his own stamp on his United team.

He said: ‘I just think that’s the way he sees it. I think you’ve got to remember they played in pre-season and they looked quite free flowing and the season’s started and it hasn’t looked as free flowing.

‘He’s looking for what’s the right formula and as a manager you’ve got to look what works for you like he’s found in the centre-half pairing and you’ve to do that in the forward area as well.’

Ten Hag, meanwhile, was delighted with the application his team demonstrated, especially in light of the energy they expended in Monday’s win over Liverpool.

He said: ‘It has to be the standard for Manchester United. It has to be normal but also you celebrate every win because you have to fight for it. We learnt from our lesson in Brentford.

‘There is room for improvement but there was also some really good football. The last half an hour was a survival and there I think we can do better.

‘There was not always pressure on the ball but [the defenders] stayed compact and were straight in the duals. I was comfortable they would deal with it.’

MORE : Paul Scholes critical of Bruno Fernandes despite Manchester United midfielder scoring winner against Southampton

MORE : Louis Saha claims Manchester United need a striker like club legend Ruud van Nistelrooy

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