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Report: Cristiano Ronaldo 'Blocked' Manchester United's Antonio Conte Pursuit

Report: Cristiano Ronaldo 'Blocked' Manchester United's Antonio Conte Pursuit
By Gary Connaughton Updated

Less than 24 hours after the conclusion of their season, Manchester United's work for the next campaign has already gotten underway.

Erik ten Hag has been in and around the club for the last week or so, holding meetings and gathering intel on his squad ahead of the start of a major rebuilding project this summer.

The Dutchman was appointed after a long and protracted search for their next permanent manager, essentially punting on the second half of the season in order to ensure they got the right man through the door.

While it is remains unclear if they have done just that, what we do know is that the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager was a failure. Not only did results on the pitch fail to pick up after his arrival, but an already tetchy dressing room became even more fractured.

The pain suffered this season could be worth it in the long-term if the appointment of ten Hag proves to be a masterstroke, although United could have appointed a top class manager midway through the campaign.

Antonio Conte was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford around the time of Ole Gunner Solskjaer's sacking, although the club ultimately decided to go in a different direction. It was rumoured at the time that they felt the Italian's demanding style was not a good fit with their rather passive playing squad.

Instead, Conte would move to Spurs where has since helped the club to a top four finish and been instrumental in the recruitment of the likes of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur.

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It is now being reported that Manchester United were indeed interested in the 52-year old, before Cristiano Ronaldo intervened.

Cristiano Ronaldo stopped Antonio Conte appointment

In a lengthy piece in the Manchester Evening News, Samuel Luckhurst discusses a number of incidents that occurred behind the scenes at Old Trafford over the course of the season.

That includes around their managerial pursuit, where it is claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo all but had the final say in stopping the potential appointment of Antonio Conte.

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The report said that the Portuguese star was an otherwise positive presence for much of the season, although his arrival did go quite a long way to under-minding the authority of club captain Harry Maguire.

No other post-Ferguson season has so brutally exposed United's poor planning. The hierarchy had gone too far down the road pandering to players, gauging Ronaldo's thoughts on Antonio Conte in that late October week.

Ronaldo, doubtless sensing the increased workload and demands in a season he turned 37, effectively 'blocked' any move for Conte, according to a source...

Ronaldo's gravitas was largely appreciated at United, particularly by the younger players, and he was holding the dressing room together in the final weeks of Solskjaer's tenure.

Ronaldo's presence cowed Maguire and some players partially blamed their own downturn in form on Maguire's struggles. One player suggested Maguire got an easier ride than other United centre-backs as far back as the 2-0 home defeat to Burnley in January 2020.

A meeting attended by senior players and Rangnick was held without Maguire in February and caused ructions. Pogba was present and retrospectively apologised to Rangnick as he did not want to appear as though he was undermining the manager.

While some remain doubtful about how good of a long-term fit Antonio Conte would have been at Manchester United, allowing a 37-year old player to have a decisive say on who the next manager should be is a remarkable misstep.

Ronaldo certainly would not have thrived under the Italian, who demands all of his players work hard as a unit out of possession. That is not something the forward is willing to do at this stage of his career.

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The whole situation certainly points to the dysfunction at Old Trafford that has landed them in their current situation.

SEE ALSO: Erik Ten Hag's Security Guard Was The Star Of Awkward Sky Sports Confrontation

 

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