Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire have both had to resign themselves to substitute roles so far this season at Manchester United.
New manager Erik Ten Hag has demoted two of last season's most trusted players at Old Trafford to the bench. Maguire has seemingly been overtaken by Raphael Varane and new signing Lisandro Martinez in the pecking order at centre-back, while a littany of issues surrounding wantaway Ronaldo have seen him left out of the starting lineup for all but one game so far this season.
Reports on Wednesday morning suggest the pair may not have seen eye-to-eye last season. The Athletic report that, while Ralf Rangnick was still interim boss at United, Ronaldo and a group of senior players approached Rangnick - and Ronaldo requested that Maguire be dropped from the starting lineup.
Cristiano Ronaldo approached Ralf Rangnick over Harry Maguire concerns
Despite the arrival of a new manager, the summer at Manchester United has been dominated by rumours of impending departure for club legend Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo returned to the club one year ago on Wednesday, but has reportedly been disillusioned by the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League, and their poor league results.
As the transfer window ticks down, it seems more and more likely that Ronaldo will remain a Manchester United player for the season ahead. One report on Wednesday morning, however, suggested that his unhappiness with affairs at Old Trafford goes as far back as February.
Adam Crafton of the Athletic reports that, in February, Ronaldo was part of a cohort of senior players who approached Ralf Rangnick to discuss the club's poor form. Among the suggestions were a two-man strikeforce of Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani and, directly from Ronaldo, a call to drop club captain Harry Maguire.
Rumours abounded at the time that the pair had had a rift, with Maguire rubbishing said reports in February. Ronaldo was touted as a potential replacement for Maguire, should the Englishman be stripped of the captaincy. The English centre back was in excellent form in the previous season, but struggled relentlessly last year to find form in a faltering United side.
Both Ronaldo and Maguire have found themselves out of favour under new manager Erik Ten Hag, with the new boss' biggest statement so far being the exclusion of both from the week three win over Liverpool.
🗣 "It is clear Raphael Varane is a really experienced player. Won everything in his career, he will bring the communication."
Erik ten Hag on the changes he has made which leaves captain Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench pic.twitter.com/LTUoX6QE6l
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 22, 2022
The reports on Wednesday morning are just the latest suggestion of unrest in the United dressing room last season, with issues becoming more prevalent throughout the season. Crafton reports that, by the time that Solskjaer was sacked as United manager in late November, many players were looking elsewhere than Maguire for leadership in the dressing room.
The supposed rift between two senior players in Ronaldo and Maguire is an eye opener into how poor the atmosphere was at the club.
The Athletic report suggests that Ronaldo's attitude has improved in recent days, and that Ten Hag is open and optimistic about working with the Portuguese star for the year ahead, after a summer in which he seemed destined to leave.
Ronaldo will have to fight his way back into the Manchester United side ahead of the in form Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Anthony Martial, with Anthony Elanga and new signing Antony also in contention for a spot in the front three.
As for Maguire, he will have to work hard to displace Varane and Martinez, arguably the club's two best players so far this season, at the heart of the United defence.
It's set to be an interesting season for both Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.