Cristiano Ronaldo: Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag says he ‘counts on’ striker and expects him to stay at club beyond January transfer window
Erik ten Hag has says he does not expect Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Manchester United during the January transfer window.
That is despite the Dutchman confirming that the striker refused to come on as a late substitute against Tottenham before leaving early during Wednesday’s victory.
Ten Hag has dropped Ronaldo for Saturday’s trip to Chelsea, live on Sky Sports, as punishment, after he previously left early during a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano.
In his pre-match press conference, he was asked whether he thought the 37-year-old would remain at the club for the rest of the season and whether he wanted him to stay.
“Both,” he replied.
“It [dropping Ronaldo] is for this game and then we continue. It’s a strike. As we said in the statement, Cristiano remains an important part of the squad and I count on him for the rest of the season. We want to fulfil our ambitions.”
Ten Hag earlier confirmed reports Ronaldo refused to come on against Spurs and said: “What (happened in) the talk is between Cristiano and me. The (club) statement is also clear.
“I am the manager, I’m responsible for the top sport culture here and I have to set standards and values, and I have to control them. We are in a team.
“After Rayo Vallecano I said it’s unacceptable but he wasn’t the only one. That is for everyone, when it’s the second time it will have consequence. That is now what we did. We’ll miss him tomorrow, it’s a miss for the squad but I think it’s important for the attitude, mentality for the group.”
Ten Hag reiterated the club’s statement that Ronaldo “remains an important part of the squad” although the striker will train on his own on Friday.
“I think it will be a reflection for him and also for everyone else,” said Ten Hag on what he hoped Ronaldo’s punishment would achieve. “I set a warning at the start of the season and the next time it has to be consequence. When you are living together, playing together, football is a team sport and you have to fulfil certain standards and I have to control it.”
‘We have to win at Chelsea’
Man United recorded an important win on Wednesday over top-four rivals Tottenham, but the Ronaldo incident threatened to overshadow their preparations for the trip to Chelsea.
Ten Hag insists their focus has been firmly on their trip to Stamford Bridge. He said: “It’s about Chelsea, we have a big game to play, all my focus is on that game, all the focus from the staff and the focus from the players is on that game. We have to win that game and do everything we can, so we need full concentration to prepare for the game and play our best.
“When you play in top football sometimes there are rumours and noise, you have to focus on the job and that is to perform tomorrow.”
Ronaldo: Sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us
Ronaldo released a statement on Thursday which said: “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 gets the best of us.
“Right now, I just feel I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my team-mates 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.”
Stam: Ronaldo would have got ‘hairdryer treatment’ under Sir Alex
Jaap Stam believes Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo leaving a game early was unacceptable and says Sir Alex Ferguson would not have tolerated it within his side.
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