Cristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo finally returned to Manchester United and started his first game under Erik ten Hag on Sunday but all eyes will be on the new manager when he names his first XI next weekend.

Man United take on Brighton and Hove Albion in their first game of the new Premier League season and before that match, Erik ten Hag will possibly have to make his most authoritarian managerial call to date.

Cristiano Ronaldo was away for most of pre-season and during that time it was Anthony Martial who led the line for the Red Devils.

Martial had fallen down the pecking order last season and everyone thought the Frenchman will be sold in the summer. However, we are seeing a completely new version of Martial, one who is energetic, ready to give his 100% and is also willing to hound down defenders.

Now with Ronaldo back amidst the mix, Erik ten Hag will have to decide if he wants to carry on with Anthony Martial up front or does he submit to the superstar aspect and bring CR7 straight back into the first XI.

Will Cristiano Ronaldo play against Brighton?

Ronaldo played 46 minutes against Rayo Vallecano and after the match Ten Hag was pretty blunt with his observations about the forward.

Ten Hag told Viaplay(h/t 90Min): “It’s like before. We plan with him, he’s in the squad.

“I cannot tell [how far away from Premier League fitness Ronaldo is]. He is definitely not on the level of our squad players at this moment because he missed a lot of weeks.

“He needs games and he needs a lot of training.”

Now, in another development Telegraph journalist James Ducker is claiming that Cristiano Ronaldo will be on the bench for the Man United vs Brighton game on Sunday.

This is obviously a very early report so things can certainly change in the next few days however, we also think Erik ten Hag will put his faith in Anthony Martial.

Martial has been superb during all the pre-season games and he’s perfectly embodied the new manager’s philosophy of a high-press game. It will be really harsh for the manager to push him to the bench at the back of such fine pre-season work.

Ole was someone who did not have the courage to take the unpopular decisions and even Rangnick abandoned his plans very early in his tenure but Erik ten Hag is certainly not going to sigh away from all these things. There’s still a chance Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Manchester United so it makes no sense for the manager to rub Martial the wrong way for someone who’s still not a guaranteed member of this squad.

Also, Ronaldo is way off match fitness right now and the Brighton game will set the tone for Manchester United this season so Ten Hag will want a flamboyant and emphatic win on Sunday.

Everything is currently shaping as for Cristiano Ronaldo to be on the bench this weekend and barring a late injury to Martial, we don’t see that changing.

Read: Pundit picks the team who are likely to finish outside of the top-four despite a doing good summer business.