Cristiano Ronaldo insists it’s not acceptable for Manchester United to be aiming for anything less than a top-three Premier League finish after clarifying recent rumours over his Old Trafford future.
The Red Devils have had a hugely disappointing campaign to date and appointed Ralf Rangnick as interim boss to replace the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in December following heavy defeats to Leicester, Liverpool and Watford.
While Rangnick has steadied the ship with four wins from seven matches and just three goals conceded, United remain seventh in the table and are already 22 points behind table-topping rivals Manchester City.
The lowest point of the German’s brief tenure so far was the recent home loss to Wolves. Indeed, after that game Luke Shaw said he did not feel “we were all together” during the match.
Asked whether United could hope to close the gap on their top-four rivals without the correct mentality, Ronaldo said: “Impossible – I think it’s the main point.
“I don’t accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League.
“I think to build up good things, sometimes you have to destroy a few things. So why not – new year, new life and I hope that Manchester (United) can be the level that the fans want. They deserve that.
“We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I’m not going to mention it here because I don’t think it’s ethical on my part to say that.
“What I can say is we can do better – all of us. Manchester (United) belongs to important things, so we have to change that.
“I don’t want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I’m here to try to win, to compete.
“I think we compete but we are not yet in our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things.”
Ronaldo gives verdict on Rangnick so far
While Rangnick has improved United’s results, the performances have been fairly underwhelming. Indeed. the Red Devils have scored more than once in a match on just one occasion.
Pundit Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports after the Wolves defeat that United had “no identity”. However, Ronaldo has urged Rangnick’s doubters to give him time to implement his ideas.
“Since he arrived five weeks ago he changed many things,” said Ronaldo. “But he needs time to put his ideas across to the players.
“It takes time but I believe that he is going to do a good job. We know we aren’t playing the best football but we have many games to improve.
“Since he arrived I think in some points we are better, but he needs time. It’s not that easy to change the mentality of players and the way they play, the culture, the system like that. I believe that he is going to do a good job.”
But while Ronaldo, whose own future in Manchester has been questioned, is confident in Rangnick’s ability to improve United’s fortunes, he was sad to see Solskjaer leave.
Sympathy for Ole
Asked how he had found the last few months, Ronaldo said: “Not easy to be honest. We changed Ole, then [Michael] Carrick [caretaker manager], then this new coach. It’s difficult when you change so much, it’s always tough.
“It’s always sad and tough. Ole used to play with me before and now he was the coach. A fantastic person. When he left everybody was sad, but it’s part of football.
“When things don’t go the way the club wants, the club has to change. I was disappointed but we have to understand the club. It was difficult but life continues.
“But I still believe that we are capable of doing a good season. We know it’s going to take time to make the ideas of the new coach on the pitch.
“But I’m looking forward. We have to work hard, we have to be together as players. We know we are not in the best moment, but I believe with working hard we can achieve important things, even this year.”