Erik ten Hag blamed Cristiano Ronaldo and other Manchester United players who left Old Trafford while Sunday’s friendly with Rayo Vallecano was ongoing and declared that it was unfair to single out the Portuguese.
Ronaldo, the only one in the matchday squad known to have left early, was photographed outside the stadium with Diogo Dalot, who was not involved. This week the manager stated it was “unacceptable” to have gone out before the final whistle. Ten Hag was asked how he handled this. “You mention it, you correct them, then move on,” he said.
Ten Hag bristled when asked specifically about Ronaldo. “What do you mean? Now I have to show [out] that those who left were many players who left, but the focus is on Christian. That is not right, so research and understand [clear] many players left, that was what was said [by him].
“I don’t understand what the connection is [singling him out] – he was part of it. There were a lot of players.”
Ten Hag was pressed on why Ronaldo and the others felt it was okay to leave early. “I think we’ve said enough about it. I said it’s not right,” he said.
Ronaldo is keen to leave United and Ten Hag was asked how satisfied he was with the 37-year-old. “I’m really happy, I told you before,” he said. “We have a top striker, really happy he is here with the squad and we are following the plan.”
In pre-season Ronaldo played only 45 minutes against Rayo and trained for the last two weeks. Ten Hag has confirmed that Anthony Martial will miss the visit of Brighton on Sunday with a hamstring injury, but he would not want Ronaldo to feature.
“We’ll see Sunday,” he said. “I am satisfied with the whole team, we are working well [with a] good culture and Cristiano works really hard and hard.”
Ten Hag’s number 1 target is Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong but with less than four weeks left of the window there is still a deadlock regarding his pursuit.
“We want Frenkie?” said Ten Hag. “It is [recruitment] about the right players and I cannot comment on a player under contract at another club. When working with the current squad and developing players in your current squad, [I see] at this moment that we have players in that position who are performing really well.”
Ten Hag stated that Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martínez were available for selection after their truncated pre-season.