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With Harry Magurie only on the bench and Bruno Fernandes suspended, Ronaldo captains United just 18 days after he refused to come on against Tottenham, an indiscretion for which he was dropped from the next squad and banished from first-team training.
Ronaldo has plenty of captaincy experience, having led Portugal on over 100 occasions, but his redemption has come very quickly at United.
Ten Hag revealed he considered David de Gea and Casemiro as captaincy options before settling on Ronaldo.
“We have more leaders, Harry is on the bench, Bruno is suspended, you take the player who has the leadership,” he said.
“The goalie is often far away from the situations, especially in the opponent’s half and we want to play in the opponents half. Casemiro is not speaking full English language yet, then you come to Cristiano, he is doing really (well) the last two games, I hope he keeps that process going.
“When you are captain and leader you have to set an example and that is what I expect from him — he is an important part of the squad, we are happy with him and now he has to taken even more of the leader role.”
Ten Hag has made just one change from the side that that beat Real Sociedad in Spain on Thursday night, with Marcus Rashford in for Fernandes.
That means 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho makes his first Premier League start, while Donny van de Beek starts back-to-back games for United for the first time in almost two years, something Ten Hag admits is a show of faith.
“I think so, Alejandro did really well in two games in the Europa League, now he deserves his position in the Premier League, I’m really curious what will come out. I have faith in them, let’s wait and see how he will do,” said Ten Hag.