Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to be the only one to take Ralf Rangnick’s comments to heart on Saturday. Manchester United beat Tottenham 3-2 thanks to his prowess in front of goal.
When Rangnick told his United team that they cannot afford to drop anymore points – it appeared that only Ronaldo was listening.
In the battle for fourth place, the likes of Arsenal, West Ham and Tottenham are fighting with the Red Devils for a Champions League spot.
But no one has showed any sort of consistency to stamp an authoritative claim over the position.
United’s win over Spurs on Saturday put them into fourth but Arsenal have four games in hand over their old rivals and sit just two points below.
It is no wonder why Rangnick believes that his team have to win from now until the end of the season to stand a chance of playing in Europe’s top competition next year.
After the 4-2 win over Leeds United last week, the German coach said: “We have to win most of the games that we have to play in the future, we are fully aware of that,” he said.
“If we want to finish fourth in the league, we cannot afford to lose and drop any more points. Even more so when you’re 1-0 or 2-0 up, which is why this was a massive win today.”
And of all the players in his squad, that has resonated with Ronaldo the most – who put in his best performance since returning to Old Trafford in the summer on Saturday.
In a pulsating 3-2 victory, it was the five-time Ballon d’Or winner that led the way with a brilliant hat-trick – the 59th of his career.
At a time when he came under the spotlight, Ronaldo did not hide and proved why he is regarded as one of the best players of all-time.
His first was an absolute rocket, reminiscent of strikes earlier in his career when he would lift the roof with his powerful shots.
The second was a classic tap-in that he has been scoring in his sleep since his goal stats ballooned at Real Madrid.
While his third goal was a tremendous header from a corner, beating Matt Doherty and Cristian Romero in the air to reassert himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick meant that United’s usual defensive errors went under the radar after more disappoint form at the back against Spurs.
First, Alex Telles’ raised arm meant that Jon Moss had no choice but to give Tottenham a penalty, which was dutifully struck home by Harry Kane.
And Harry Maguire, who has had a nightmare season, diverted Sergio Reguilon’s cross past David de Gea – despite the intended target being offside.
But with Ronaldo in the side, Rangnick might just see his wish come true and potentially land United a top-four spot.