Cristiano Ronaldo could face backlash from Man United fans after refusing to play against Tottenham – Ten Hag – ESPN

Cristiano Ronaldo could face backlash from Man United fans after refusing to play against Tottenham - Ten Hag - ESPN

Erik ten Hag warned Cristiano Ronaldo he may face a backlash from Manchester United fans after refusing to play against Tottenham Hotspur.

Ronaldo was left out of the squad to face Chelsea on Saturday and spent Friday training alone with fitness trainers at Carrington.

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Ten Hag will seek talks with the 37-year-old before deciding whether he can join the first team on Monday, but says the striker could face a harsh backlash from supporters when he returns if they feel he has disrespected the club.

“He must realize that you are justified [judged] in the moment and how you act today,” Ten Hag said at a news conference on Friday.

“In top sport, it’s about today – it’s not about age or reputation. When you have top sport, you’re vindicated and judged on the moment and how you perform.

“That’s normal. Everyone has to be aware of it and not just Christian. We have to be aware of it as a team, manager and club.”

Ten Hag says he “wants and expects” Ronaldo to stay at Old Trafford until the end of the season, but insists he will only be allowed back into the squad if he meets “certain standards”.

The Dutchman expects to have the Portugal captain available for the Europa League fixture against FC Sheriff on Thursday but a decision is unlikely to be made until after the trip to Chelsea.

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“It’s for this game and then we’ll move on,” said Ten Hag.

“I’m open to that. For me, it’s a strike. What we said in the statement is that Cristiano remains an important part of the squad and I trust him for the rest of the season. We want to fulfill our ambitions.

“What I said is that I don’t want to miss him. I want him to be in the squad and be involved for every game because he has an impact.”

The decision on how to handle Ronaldo’s refusal to play against Tottenham was left to Ten Hag, although sources told ESPN that United supported his response to the situation.

Ten Hag have been given the green light by club bosses to sanction Ronaldo and the 52-year-old revealed he made his demands from players clear when he interviewed for the job earlier this year.

“When I was appointed, I spoke to the directors about the culture, top sports culture, standards and that’s why they appointed me,” Ten Hag said.

“They did some background and we had talks about how I lead, what my personality is and how I do it in a strategic way and about my standards and leadership.”

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