Erik ten Hag singles out Cristiano Ronaldo for helping to transform Manchester United’s defensive record | Football

Cristiano Ronaldo has been praised for his…defending (Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has singled out Cristiano Ronaldo for helping to transform the club’s defensive record this season.

United have conceded just once in their last seven matches in all competitions and that came when Jorginho scored from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in mid-October.

The Red Devils started the season with back-to-back defeats against Brighton and Brentford, with United conceding four against the Bees in the opening half.

While United recovered well from that defeat, they conceded six against rivals Manchester City at the start of October before Casemiro made his full debut a week later against Everton.

The Brazilian has been a fundamental part of the turnaround, providing defensive nous and physicality at the base of the midfield.

But Ten Hag has somewhat surprisingly singled out Ronaldo as an inspiration for the defensive record and says the striker’s defending from the front has been vital.

Erik ten Hag demands that his forward players press (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

‘We defend with 11, starting with Cristiano up front,’ said Ten Hag.

‘So we are hard to beat as a team. That’s a compliment but it’s also that process we have to keep going.

‘That makes it hard to beat us because everyone is convinced of that plan, everyone is disciplined in that plan.

‘When we play with the desire and passion, we are hard to beat and that makes us, in this moment, successful.’

Ronaldo is likely to start this afternoon against Aston Villa given United’s shortage of options in attack.

Bruno Fernandes is suspended, while Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial are unlikely to be available.

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