Manager ‘to deal with’ Ronaldo after early exit (VIDEO)
Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag could be set for a major clash after the Dutchman said he would “deal with” the Portuguese football icon for leaving early during the team’s 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.
After what was regarded as one of their best performances of the season, United moved within a point of the Premier League top four by beating third-placed Spurs at Old Trafford.
Goals from Fred and Bruno Fernandes decided the scoreline, but Ronaldo did not wait until the final whistle after watching the entirety of the match from the substitutes’ bench.
The 37-year-old was filmed heading down the Old Trafford tunnel in the 89th minute while refusing to shake hands with fans.
The Athletic claims that Ronaldo not only left the pitch prematurely, but also departed the ground before the full 90 minutes were up.
In his post-match interview, Ten Hag was asked whether Ronaldo had spoken to him before exiting.
“He was there, I have seen him. But I didn’t speak with him,” replied the Dutchman.
“I don’t pay attention to that, I will deal with it tomorrow,” Ten Hag responded when pushed on the subject. “I want to keep the focus on the team.”
Ronaldo’s early exit is the second since Erik ten Hag took over in the summer.
Following a preseason friendly against Rayo Vallecano where Ronaldo was brought off at half time and was filmed outside Old Trafford heading home before the end of the match, Ten Hag said that he didn’t “condone” Ronaldo’s conduct which was “unacceptable, for everyone.”
“We are a team and you have to stay until the end,” Ten Hag added.
Ronaldo was criticized for his repeat of the act this week, with one Sky Sports pundit claiming that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner thinks he is “bigger than the team.”
Ronaldo has been on the bench for big wins against Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs this term, and life without the veteran – whose contract expires next summer – already appears to be in the offing at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag reportedly refused to sell Ronaldo in the summer after he handed in a transfer request and publicly insisted that the club legend formed part of his plans.
His constant benching of the number ‘7’ has indicated otherwise, however, and claims have been made that Ronaldo will be moved on in the January transfer window, with Inter Miami in the MLS touted as a possible next destination.
Ronaldo has suffered a difficult week after finishing 20th in the battle for the Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best male footballer, which was won by former Real Madrid team Karim Benzema.
The ranking was Ronaldo’s lowest since 2005, and he could be in for further embarrassment on Saturday when likely benched for an away trip to fourth-place Chelsea in the Premier League.