Man United players say the exit of poisonous Ronaldo restored feel-good mood at Old Trafford

Man United players say the exit of poisonous Ronaldo restored feel-good mood at Old Trafford


Manchester United’s future may lie in their forward line’s past. They have long thought as much. It is just that they had picked the wrong part of their past. However, a feel-good mood is returning and the Red Devils are getting ready to pounce.

There was the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer nostalgia project and the attempt to turn back time with Cristiano Ronaldo. Suffice to say that neither ended well. But, in the post-Ronaldo era, their attack is now based around two men who debuted five managers ago under Louis van Gaal, according to The Independent.

But the frustrations seem to be behind the Red Devils. The feel-good mood in the team is reported in the Daily Mail in a post-Christiano Ronaldo analysis.

The Mail reports that Manchester United have already forgotten about Ronaldo and moved on from his acrimonious exit, citing Christian Eriksen. This was after United won their first Premier League game since ripping up Ronaldo’s contract over his explosive interview with Piers Morgan when they beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

While Eriksen acknowledged that Ronaldo will always be part of United folklore, the Dane admitted that he has already been consigned to history.

“First of all, we are sad that Ronaldo is not part of it – his legacy and his name at any club is special,” said Eriksen. “For me to be fortunate to play with him in my career was very nice. But the football goes on. You feel that the next game after, people will forget what it was like before and now our focus is really like he is not here.”

Instead, The Independent reports that at 25 and 27, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are young to be described as part of United’s history. If some had their way after last season was the poorest of each’s career, they could have been consigned to the ranks of the Old Trafford old boys, it adds.

Instead, Erik ten Hag has instead made each central; literally in the case of Martial who, while injuries had restricted his appearances, had seemed his first-choice striker since the summer, and figuratively for Rashford, who now feels the dominant figure in the attack.

Each scored in the 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest. It will take more than a home victory over relegation candidates to anoint them a double act who will remain automatic choices for years; not when Martial’s frame can be fragile, when Ten Hag wants another forward, when United are bound to enter into a footballing arms race for an attacker at some stage.

Martial, in particular, is no stranger to false dawns but this was an occasion to suggest United have found a new look in a duo who first took the field together almost seven years ago, in Rashford’s third senior appearance in March 2016, and who have teamed up 168 times.

They have been twinned in the team and on the bench, swapped in position, rivals for one spot. They spent just eight minutes on the pitch together last season: were there a permanent parting of the ways then, the eventual verdict may have been that, if opposites attract, they were too similar to be a perfect match.

United’s win over Forest lifted to them to within one point of fourth-placed Tottenham as the club’s revival under manager Erik ten Hag continued, which prompted Eriksen to remark (via Daily Mail):

“We are in a good place. The start of the season was very different compared to now, the football is different to the beginning. It was a bit hit-and-miss in some games, but I think after that we picked up and we have been building since.

The midfielder revealed that the mood at Old Trafford had changed following the exit of Ronaldo, who is blamed for poisoning attitudes in the team.

“You feel that in the group. You feel that the system is working, which is something you have to believe in, and I think we are doing that. The atmosphere is good. We have a lot of people coming back from the World Cup, the last guys are coming back and everyone is coming together.”

The win against Forest on Tuesday, he says has strengthened self-confidence in the team.

“It helps winning games and also before we went away for the World Cup, we had a few good wins which makes it easier to come back and start like this. It was the first Premier League game after the World Cup, so obviously it was important to get going again. With a 3-0 win at home, it is a good feeling and a good start. The Burnley game was the same (in the Carabao Cup last week). It took a bit of getting into it, but I think that game showed we didn’t lose anything,” he explains.

Eriksen helped set up the first goal for Rashford with a cleverly-worked corner routine that led to the England forward’s 10th goal of the season.

“It was planned,” Eriksen explained. “We practised it twice on Monday. We saw that coming and luckily it went a lot better than it did in training! It’s always different with opposition and the pitch wasn’t as wet, but it came off perfectly.”

He praised Rashford and Martial for outstanding showing in-front of goal.

 He told the Mail, “Marcus played very well. I haven’t been on the pitch where he has played a bad game yet. I let him continue that. He is looking sharp and confident, and you can feel that when he is going forward. You feel that in the stadium, and you feel that with him. It is a nice thing and I hope he keeps it going. You can see that he came back pretty confident. He came back in good shape and luckily he has taken that into United.”

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