United had their most impressive game under the Dutch manager on Wednesday when they ran Antonio Conte’s Spurs to the ground in front of their fans at Old Trafford. A blistering second-hand performance from the Red Devils with goals from Fred and Bruno Fernandes got the whole stadium buzzing.
In the midst of that buzz, however, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was asked to warm up but later sent back to the bench as a tactical decision by ten Hag, chose to leave the pitch altogether. His reasons for doing it are unclear, with some speculating in-fighting as the reason for his actions.
The walkout by the five-time Ballon d’Or winner took the gloss out of the very vital victory as all that the media could talk about was Cristiano Ronaldo. It was also reflected in the post-match interview with ten Hag.
“I didn’t pay attention,” said ten Hag when asked for his thoughts on Ronaldo storming into the tunnel. “We’ll deal with that tomorrow. I want to get the focus on this team. It was a magnificent performance from all the 11 players.”
In response to the petulant act by the former Juventus man, the former Ajax manager has axed him from the squad ahead of their upcoming Premier League game against Chelsea. It is unknown how long this sanction will last, however, ten Hag’s reputation suggests it may be indefinite.
The last time the former Bayern Munich II manager had to deal with such an incident was in Ajax. Back in 2018, he axed Amin Younes from the squad for the rest of the season for the same incident.
A club statement on the manager’s decision reads: “Cristiano will not be part of the Manchester United squad for this Saturday’s game against Chelsea. The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for that fixture.”
Ronaldo addressed the situation on Instagram, saying, “As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches. That hasn’t changed.
“I haven’t changed. I’m the same person and the same professional that I’ve been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision making process.
“I started very young, the older and most experienced players examples were always very important to me. Therefore, later on, I’ve always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I’ve represented.
“Unfortunately that’s not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment get’s the best of us.
“Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates and be ready for everything in any given game. Giving in to the pressure is not an option.
“It never was. This is Manchester United, and united we must stand. Soon we’ll be together again.”
The 37-year-old will also be training alone.