Erik ten Hag should implore the Manchester United board to release Cristiano Ronaldo on a free transfer in an effort to send a message to his players, Jamie Carragher has claimed.
The Portuguese wantaway has marred Ten Hag’s first summer in charge at Old Trafford by publicly seeking a departure, eager to join a club in the Champions League.
Carragher believes that by seizing the opportunity to axe Ronaldo, Ten Hag would send a powerful message to his Red Devils camp that no player is more important than the Manchester United manager.
Writing for the Telegraph, the ex-Liverpool star described Ronaldo’s actions as ‘damaging and undermining’, replacing the positivity often brought in by a fresh managerial appointment.
He referenced a line from Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography, admonishing Ten Hag to take note of the advice offered by the Old Trafford legend – ‘The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go.’
By axing Ronaldo, Carragher believes that the 52-year-old coach would stamp his authority on the dressing room, demonstrating that a lack of discipline or commitment would not be tolerated under his leadership.
The ex-England international wrote: ‘[Ten Hag] has been handed an extremely difficult and unwanted welcoming gift upon arriving from Ajax.
‘Ronaldo’s presence is a legacy of United’s miscalculation bringing him back 12 months ago.
‘I made my reservations known at the time. Everything since has confirmed the mistake.’
Ten Hag begins his first Premier League campaign at home to Brighton on Sunday, with Anthony Martial a major doubt following a hamstring issue.
Meanwhile, Jadon Sancho missed the Atletico Madrid friendly through illness last weekend but is expected to return.
The role Ronaldo will play during Ten Hag’s debut match at Old Trafford remains unclear, although a start seems unlikely due to the forward’s lack of minutes in pre-season.