Mikael Silvestre Exclusive: Build Around Ronaldo
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Mikael Silvestre Exclusive: Build Around Ronaldo

Ex-Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre insists that his former club would be best served by continuing with Cristiano Ronaldo as their main man up front next season. Ronaldo arrived last summer from Juventus and has hit 22 goals in 35 appearances across all competitions for the Red Devils – but the club have still endured an underwhelming campaign, despite the Portuguese’s individual form. Silvestre is grateful for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s goals and hailed the forward’s importance to his old side.


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United Must Adapt To Ronaldo

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “If [Ronaldo] wasn’t there, I don’t see who would have stepped in. 

“[Edinson] Cavani has been injured, Marcus [Rashford] hasn’t been himself, there wasn’t anyone else who could score goals at the club. Thank God we have him! 

“United need to adapt to him, there is no other way. We know he is not going to chase and run down the wings anymore. 

“If you give him the service, look at the goal he scored against Arsenal, this was a pure striker’s finish. He’s in between two defenders, makes the run and reads the situation before the Arsenal players, because he’s got the experience and he knows where to position himself to be on the end of the crosses. 

“You know next season, he needs to be the number one. If United sign another forward, that’s fine, but I wouldn't mind starting with Cristiano every game because he is not getting any younger. 

“He was an expensive signing but if you think of what he brings in revenues, he’s already paid for it! 

“Business-wise, it was a great decision, on the pitch it’s a great decision. He has 22 goals already, so I don’t know where those doubters were coming from. 

“He’s done it everywhere. you think he can’t do it coming to the Premier League? Of course he can. 

“Those people who thought he would be taking on players one against one and beating four or five players before scoring a goal, no, not anymore. 

“That part of his career is over and he’s changed his game to become a proper No9. Cristiano is unbelievable.”

Mikael Silvestre Exclusive: Rangnick Inherited A Fragmented Dressing Room

Mikael Silvestre Exclusive: Rangnick Inherited A Fragmented Dressing Room

New Manager Faces Tough Challenges

And Silvestre believes that incoming boss Erik ten Hag should build around Ronaldo, as he faces his biggest challenge as United manager – recruitment.

“The biggest [challenge Ten Hag faces] is to make the right signings,” he explained. 

“The first few signings will be super important because they will set the tone for what he wants to do and the direction that he wants to take. 

“That is going to be a challenge because he will have to go away from what everyone is looking at – the next superstar – because that is not what United need at the moment. 

“They need solid, competitive, loyal, intelligent players. Players who will put the team before themselves. 

“They’ve already got superstars at United and there is enough talent in the team. Now, they need hard-working players. 

“I think that Ralf [Rangnick] was a little bit dramatic when he said the club needed ten players. 

“Players that are out of contract will leave and [Nemanja] Matic has said that he will leave in the summer. 

“Matic, [Jesse] Lingard and [Paul] Pogba that's three from the midfield, so that's three players that will need to be replaced at least. 

“I think it's the spine of the team that needs reinforcement. That is where the club will be focusing this summer.”

Mikael Silvestre Exclusive: Not Much To Be Proud Of At United

Mikael Silvestre Exclusive: Not Much To Be Proud Of At United

Ten Hag Approval

Silvestre also revealed his approval of the appointment of Ten Hag and hopes that the Dutchman – and potential second-in-command Steve McClaren – are given time to rebuild the club.

“I’m pleased [with the appointment of Ten Hag] because I hope that what I’m reading about him being a long-term appointment is true,” he continued. “I hope that he is given the time and the resources to rebuild. 

“Also, he isn’t a massive name, and when Sir Alex [Ferguson] joined the club as manager he wasn’t a big name. 

“I hope that he can follow in Alex’s footsteps and Erik’s name is huge when he eventually leaves United. That for me would be the best case scenario, it would be amazing. 

“I believe his philosophy will please the fans if he can apply it. I think he has humility and I hope that everyone at the club understands that they have to be on the same level as him, showing humility and hard work before thinking about challenging for the title for the next two or three years. 

“I think he can [get United playing attacking football]. The big difference between the Premier League and the Dutch league is the speed of the game and the intensity. 

“It’s down to player selection of course, but his philosophy should work at United. No doubt. 

“Personally, I enjoyed [McClaren’s] training sessions. He would often lead the training with Sir Alex taking more of a back seat and watching from a distance. 

“You want people at the club that understand it, who have the experience. People that were part of that successful era when United were dominant. Why not get him [McClaren] back?”

 

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