Former Man United striker Dwight Yorke believes that new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag should have made Cristiano Ronaldo club captain ahead of this season.
Harry Maguire was handed the armband by former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in January 2020, but has struggled to perform in recent months.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has reportedly asked to leave United after a poor 2021-22 season in which the Red Devils failed to secure Champions League football – and Yorke feels the star forward is still feeling the disappointment from that campaign.
The former United striker thinks that giving Ronaldo the role of captain would have prevented the summer of speculation over his future.
Speaking exclusively to Lord Ping, he said: “I spent 30 minutes with Ronaldo at the end of last season, and I can tell you that he wasn’t happy like a lot of the United players.
“He didn't like to see the club where it was – it was a major disappointment for him.
“What I saw in Ronaldo was someone that was highly motivated in bringing success back to the football club.
“To score the goals that he did last season, under difficult circumstances, can you imagine where United would have been without his goals? Huge credit to him.
“I would have made him captain for the coming season. I think that would have been a clever move from Ten Hag because I don’t think Maguire will be his number one centre back and Ronaldo is the most experienced player in the team.
“Now we have a situation where [vice-captain] Bruno [Fernandes] is captaining Ronaldo, a player who Ronaldo captains for his national team. I think Ronaldo will have struggled a little bit with that – he probably doesn’t understand that decision.
“I also think Maguire would have benefited from having the armband taken off him. He struggled last year and I think the pressure of being United captain showed in his performances.
“The players would have respected the decision because of what Ronaldo has achieved in the game – I think he would have thrived under the responsibility and that could have given Ronaldo a new lease of life in what should be his final season at the club.
“I don’t think you would have all of this uncertainty if he was appointed captain, that's how I would evaluate it.
“I’m not worried about his professionalism. As a big player coming to the end of his career, he will want to play as much as he can. After everything he has achieved in the game, he can walk away from it.
“He still thinks he can play. He said to me he can play for two more seasons at the highest level. He's got a number in his head. He can always come and play for [me at] Macarthur!”
Morale Needs Improving
Yorke believes that the quality of attacking players alongside Ronaldo at United is just as good as the rest of the top six, but hopes Ten Hag can improve morale at the club and get them performing at their best.
“I think we have a group of talented players,” he added. “I don’t think United should be so far behind [Manchester] City and Liverpool, that gap is far too big.
“[Marcus] Rashford, who I have watched closely on many occasions, has all the attributes.
“[Jadon] Sancho does, then there is Bruno, Ronaldo, [Anthony] Martial back in the equation – that's plenty of firepower.
“For some reason, we haven't seen the best of these players. I think that goes back to players not buying into the managers’ ideas.
“If you go into work and you're unhappy, you're never going to perform. I saw a lot of unhappiness at the club when I was there. Players can't go into an environment where they’re expected to perform at their best in a bad place.
“These players are far too talented. They should be capable of challenging, okay, maybe not winning the league, but certainly expect to finish in the top four.
“I think the results last season show how unhappy the players were. You can never be successful if you’re not happy. You need people to come in and look forward to training.
“If Ten Hag can do that, and get the players believing in his ideas and enjoying their football then you will see improvement.
“Do I look at City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea and think their forwards are better than ours? I don't think they are, but they are getting much more out of their players.
“Ronaldo is an incredible player, but you need to play him in a system with legs around him.”
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