In pictures: Man Utd v Chelsea
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Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo sent out a heartfelt message of thanks to the club’s supporters on social media after the Red Devils thrashed out a draw with Chelsea on Thursday evening. More protests took place against the Glazers before kick-off, which left thousands of seats empty in the early stages of the match.
United were dominated for large parts of their midweek encounter with the Blues, particularly in the first half. Red Devils heroes Gary Neville and Roy Keane were beside themselves on commentary duties and in the Sky Sports studio, with the former comparing the defence to ‘red mannequins’ and the latter likening his former team to ‘a League One side’.
They looked destined to leave empty-handed when Marcos Alonso opened the scoring on the hour mark. But as has so often been the case this season, Ronaldo was there to bail them out as he notched his 17th Premier League goal of the season just two minutes later.
After the final whistle, Ronaldo wrote on social media: “Thanks for the support in Old Trafford tonight. As always, our fans were amazing in their effort to help the team.”
Fans gathered outside Old Trafford before kick-off to protest against their controversial owners, who have drawn widespread criticism from many who feel that the club is being poorly run. It was the second such protest in just two weeks, with fans also making their feelings known before the home tie against Norwich City on April 16.
Those who left their seats empty at kick-off eventually filtered in around the 17th-minute mark – representative of the 17 years the Glazers have owned the club. Some fans then unveiled a co-ordinated banner which read: “Glazers Out”.
With United struggling this season and Champions League qualification seemingly out of reach, Ronaldo’s future continues to be a matter of hot debate. After notching against the Blues on Thursday, his total of 17 Premier League goals leaves him trailing only Mohamed Salah in the scoring charts – some feat at 37-years-old.
Erik ten Hag is set to take the reins at the end of the season, arriving with a solid reputation from his time with Ajax. It remains to be seen how prominently a veteran Ronaldo features in his plans, given the Dutchman’s tendency to develop young players and unearth hidden gems. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick, meanwhile, faces uncertainty of his own.
Reports suggest that he will share his two-year consultancy role at Old Trafford with the Austran men’s national team job, which he addressed after the final whistle at Old Trafford.
“I would like to speak to only about Manchester United and this evening,” he said, “I would like to say that I will continue with my consultancy role at the club at the end of the season.
“I am happy and willing to help Manchester United, but it will leave space for another job alongside the consultancy role but I will only speak about Manchester United this evening.”
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