Jonathan Woodgate Exclusive: United Should Build Around Ronaldo
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Jonathan Woodgate Exclusive: United Should Build Around Ronaldo

Jonathan Woodgate believes Manchester United only signed Cristiano Ronaldo to prevent him going to rivals Manchester City – but insists they must now build around the superstar. Ronaldo made a sensational return to Old Trafford last summer, following rumours linking him with a move to the Citizens. However, the Portuguese has not been able to guide his current side to a successful campaign. Despite scoring 12 goals in 24 Premier League outings – including a hat-trick in their 3-2 victory over Tottenham on Saturday – United remain 19 points behind league leaders City, who have a game in hand. And Woodgate has criticised the Red Devils for their poor planning – both in terms of the signing of Ronaldo and how the team has been set up since his arrival.


Club Criticism

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “The club’s not being run properly. 

“They haven’t got a manager in charge that’s going to be there for the long run, [Ralf Rangnick] is an interim manager, and then he’s going to go upstairs next season. 

“If you look at the Ronaldo situation, Man United were never linked with Cristiano Ronaldo. It was only when Man City went to get him. 

“Man United thought, ‘Oh, he can’t go to City’. Then they took him, for what reason? I don’t believe he was ever a target for them. 

“At the last minute he became a Man United player. Where’s all the planning? Who planned it? Was it just off the cuff? 

“Let’s go and sign Cristiano Ronaldo because he’s going to Man City. At a top football club, that can’t happen, in my view. That’s just my view.

“I don’t agree that [he has been a destabilising influence, though]. I think he’s a world-class player. 

“I think you bring Ronaldo in, then you’ve got to build a team around him. He scores goals for fun. 

“You have to build a team around Ronaldo, because at the end of the day, you brought him in at the last minute, so if you’re going to bring him in last-minute, then try and build a team around him. 

“It doesn’t make sense if you’re not going to do that. I don’t think United really have built that team around Ronaldo, to get the best out of a top-quality player.”

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Maguire Support

Former England international Woodgate also defended Harry Maguire, whose performances have been heavily criticised this season, suggesting the club and Rangnick need to stand by their captain.

“I think [Maguire] was very good at the Euros in the summer,” he explained. 

“He’s the captain of Man United, you know he’s going to get scrutinised. 

“For me, you’ve got to stick with him, because in my opinion he’s the second-best centre-half at the football club behind [Raphael] Varane. 

“The more Varane and Maguire play together, that partnership is going to get better. 

“Varane’s been injured quite a bit this season, so it’s been tough for Maguire, but for me, you stick with him. 

“You keep on playing him, because at the end of the day, what did they pay for him, 80-odd million?

“He’s the captain of the club and it hasn’t been easy for him this season, but he’s still a good player, you don’t become a bad player overnight.

“It's always hard for someone coming from LaLiga to the Premier League, because the intensity is different to any league. [But Varane] is a player who’s won four Champions Leagues for Real Madrid.

“Man United have only lost in the league twice when he’s played, so I think if you pair him and Maguire up, then you start getting a bit tighter back there – the full-backs become a bit steadier and more compact. Then you’re not going to concede as many goals.

“It’s not all down to Varane. Do I think he’s struggled in this league? I don’t think it’s gone perfectly well, but I think he’s been injured a couple of times and I don’t think that’s helped. 

“There’s no doubt he’s a top-quality player. He’s only 28 as well. I couldn’t believe that because he’s played at the top level for so many years and he’s got plenty of years ahead of him.

“He’s had a fantastic career. Man United want a [Virgil] Van Dijk though, I believe. 

“You have to search high and low for all these players, where can we get them from? But he’s not a Van Dijk, he’s not a Rolls Royce. Still a good player. Still a top player, in fact.”






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V: 1.38.0 All rights reserved. August 2021