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Man United fans send message to Cristiano Ronaldo with Old Trafford gesture vs Rayo Vallecano

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Man United fans send message to Cristiano Ronaldo with Old Trafford gesture vs Rayo Vallecano
Ronaldo’s return

Manchester United’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano was intended to be an opportunity for youngsters and fringe players to play. The focus was supposed to be on United’s match against Atletico Madrid on Saturday but that all changed due to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo expressed his desire to leave the club earlier this month and he was absent for United’s tour of Thailand and Australia. He eventually reported for training on Tuesday morning and he was joined by agent Jorge Mendes for talks over his future. Ronaldo began training on grass later in the week, but he was not included in United’s squad for their trip to Oslo, Norway.

Instead, Ronaldo was browsing social media posts about himself and he confirmed in the comments of a dedicated fan account that he would be playing against Rayo Vallecano. Sunday, the king plays,” Ronaldo wrote in his usual modest tone.

United fans have understandably been angry at Ronaldo for warning to leave the club, but all seemed to be forgotten when he emerged on the pitch to warm-up before Vallecano. Ronaldo applauded the Stretford End and it was reciprocated.

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Ronaldo looked sharp, despite his lack of fitness, and he looked animated when talking to Ten Hag around the 30-minute mark. Ronaldo is the biggest personality that Ten Hag has handled and he’s so far rising to the challenge in tricky circumstances.

Varane’s challenge

Raphael Varane was sidelined with injury for the majority of United’s tour and that limited him to just 68 minutes, which came against Liverpool and Aston Villa. Varane’s injury record is a source of frustration and he’s in danger of becoming an underwhelming signing.

Varane’s fitness can’t be trusted and that explains why Ten Hag brought Lisandro Martinez to the club this summer. Martine is a left-footed centre-back and it seems he’s been signed to start, perhaps alongside Harry Maguire, who remains club captain.

Maguire has played on the right side of the centre of the defence during pre-season and that has suggested Ten Hag was preparing him to play alongside the left-footed Lisandro Martinez. Maguire and Martinez could be Ten Hag’s first choice centre-backs, but Varane is world-class when fit and he started against Vallecano, while he was also selected to wear the captain’s armband.

Varane started with Martinez and looked slightly off the pace, which was understandable considering his lack of minutes this summer, but it was hardly the type of performance that would make a statement to Ten Hag ahead of the new season.

The Frenchman’s talent can’t be doubted, but he’s facing a challenge to maintain his standing in the club’s defensive pecking order.

Ten Hag demands press-ups

Ten Hag has impressed during pre-season and the players are understood to be responding well to his methods. Ten Hag is the authoritarian figure that the dressing room required and his press-up punishments have been a light-hearted training addition.

When United have warmed for matches this summer, they have been forced to do press-ups when losing the ball, but it might be peculiar to see that continue into the new season. Regardless, Ten Hag is improving morale while also driving up standards.

Garnacho is back

When Alejandro Garnacho was last at Old Trafford in May, he was winning the FA Youth Cup with the U18s. Garnacho scored two goals in the final that night, but he didn’t make a single appearance on United’s tour of Thailand and Australia.

Garnacho would have been disappointed not to feature in those four games or against Atletico Madrid in Oslo, Norway, but he seized his opportunity when starting against Rayo Vallecano. Garnacho looked bright and inventive from the first whistle.

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