Manchester United bidder Thomas Zilliacus has praised Erik ten Hag's handling of Cristiano Ronaldo earlier in the campaign as part of a wider assessment of the Dutchman's time in charge at Old Trafford thus far. Ten Hag quickly set about stamping his authority in the United dressing room following his appointment at the end of last season, with Ronaldo facing the wrath of his manager after holding a tell-all interview with Piers Morgan in November.
Ten Hag was in no mood to stand for Ronaldo's attitude problems and had no qualms about reaching an agreement to mutually terminate the 38-year-old's contract, which allowed him to join Saudi club Al-Nassr on a free transfer just weeks later. Zilliacus, who is hoping to beat Sir Jim Ratcliffe and a Qatari consortium to purchase United in the near future, has since revealed that he was a huge fan of the way Ten Hag dealt with the situation as a result of his ruthless approach to proceedings.
"From what I’ve seen, he’s a brilliant manager," the Finnish businessman told NOS on Tuesday. "What he did with Ajax was amazing and what he’s done now with Manchester United is equally amazing.
"Early in the season, things didn’t look very good. And he had the courage, which I really admire, to tell even big established stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo: 'Look, this is me running this and this is how I need to do’.
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"And that led Ronaldo to leave the club which now seems to have been a good move, because the club is doing significantly better without him. I think he’s done an amazing job, so I really hope that he stays with the club and if I would be the owner I’d definitely want to see him continue."
Zilliacus is now firmly in the running to buy United after emerging on a platform of criticising Sheikh ownership with an apparent swipe at his Qatari rivals earlier this month, with the 59-year-old saying: "Any sport club ultimately should belong to its fans. The current development, where billionaire sheiks and oligarchs take over clubs and control them as their personal playgrounds is not a healthy trend."
He went on to explain that he is planning to put up half of the money to buy United through investors and have the other half owned by supporters, who would pay a nominal fee in exchange for a say on club matters.
"The current market value of the club is just under $3.9billion," added Zilliacus. "That means that if every one of the fans of the club would join in buying the club, the total sum per fan would amount to less than six dollars. My bid is built on equality with the fans.
"My group will finance half of the sum needed to take over the club, and will ask the fans, through a new company that is being set up for this specific purpose, to participate for the other half. If every fan joins, it means less than three dollars per fan.
"Each fan who joins will have access to an app which the fan, from anywhere in the world, can use to participate and cast his vote when deciding on footballing matters relating to the club. No decisions will be taken that are not supported by a majority of the fan base."
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