CRISTIANO RONALDO is a big doubt for Ralf Rangnick’s debut in the Manchester United dugout on Sunday with a knee injury.
The absence of Ronaldo would be a major early blow for Rangnick, who yesterday vowed to get the best of the 36-year-old superstar.
Sources at United suggested the Portuguese talisman may have hurt his knee doing his trademark jump celebration after scoring the winning penalty in Thursday’s 3-2 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford.
Yet Ronaldo played on and even did a full length run of the pitch late on when United broke forward. He was eventually substituted in the 88th minute and walked awkwardly off the pitch.
There have been fears Ronaldo would struggle to fit into Rangnick’s high-pressing style but the new boss vowed to deploy him up front.
Rangnick, who faces Crystal Palace tomorrow, said: “You always have to adapt your style or your idea of football to the players you have available, not visa versa.
“Having seen Cristiano against Arsenal in the second half at the age of 36, he is an amazing top professional.
“At his age, I've never seen a player who is still that physically fit. He's still a player who can easily make the difference.
“So yes, it's about how we can develop the whole team, not only Cristiano. We play in the most competitive league in the world so we need all the players on board.
“What I saw from Cristiano, he is more than willing to do that, to put his input into the team. His team-mates will have to do the same.”
Rangnick will not have much time to get his ideas across before tomorrow’s match at home to Palace.
He said: “I cannot do a lot with the players that played against Arsenal because I need to make sure that they have enough power and fuel in the tanks for the game on Sunday, so physically we cannot really train.
“So, the only way to help them and to give them an input is mentally obviously, with regard to energy.
"Against Arsenal the second half showed that there is enough energy in the team.
“Of course it's about video footage, showing them the right situations, telling them what they might be able to do better to keep the team away from their own box - those kinds of things.”
⚽ Read our Football news live blog for the very latest rumours, gossip and done deals