Ronaldo practiced alone yesterday after being dropped from United’s team to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tonight due to his “unacceptable” behavior against Tottenham on Wednesday.
The United manager confirmed Ronaldo had refused to come on against Tottenham, as well as going down the tunnel and departing Old Trafford before the game had completed, the second time in three months he had gone without permission.
Ten Hag said he didn’t want to stay without Ronaldo and didn’t expect the punishment to last another week, but he left little room for interpretation when asked if the player’s return was contingent on his showing repentance and following the rules.
“First, we’ll discuss,” Ten Hag said. “We have certain expectations. That applies to all players. I believe everyone understands that both [activities] are unacceptable, thus I will not grade it (which is worse).
“Both are unacceptable, which is why he gets certain days off.” He, like everyone else, must live by certain norms, including the ones we set this season.”
With Anthony Martial sidelined for the past three games due to a back ailment, Ronaldo’s absence against Chelsea will leave United bereft of options up front.
Ten Hag, on the other hand, insisted on “consequences,” especially as Ronaldo was already on a caution for leaving a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano early.
“It’s a difficult decision, there’s no doubt about it,” Ten Hag added. “However, there must be repercussions for improper behavior, especially if it is the second time.” You can’t let it go because it will ruin your life in the future. I dislike it because I prefer the squad with Cristiano.”
Ronaldo made no apologies in a 170-word statement uploaded on his Instagram account on Thursday, only hours after United announced the 37-year-old had been benched for the game against Chelsea.
United is scheduled to play at least nine more games before the transfer window opens on January 1st, but while Ten Hag stated that the door was still open for Ronaldo and dismissed the possibility of him playing his final game for the club, the manager warned the striker that he could face a fan backlash. Ronaldo could be considered for selection as early as Thursday’s home Europa League match against Sheriff Tiraspol.
“He has to be conscious that you get [judged] by the time and how you are acting today,” Ten Hag said, declining to say whether Ronaldo had been penalized. “In top sport, it’s all about today, not age or reputation.” The moment and how you act evaluate you.”
Ronaldo arrived at United’s Carrington training complex at 8.30 a.m. yesterday and worked out with club fitness instructors before departing in his black Bentley around 1 p.m.
The five-time World Player of the Year wanted to leave United in the summer and is again looking to go in January, but his refusal to play appears to be deterring possible suitors. Marseille has ruled out signing Ronaldo because he does not fit with the club’s ethos of prioritizing the group. Ten Hag’s decision to fire Ronaldo was unanimously supported by United’s administration.
“When I was appointed, I discussed elite sports culture and standards with the directors,” he stated. “In order to create a top sports culture and set the greatest standards, we must live them.”
“It will be a [moment for] introspection not only for him [Ronaldo], but for everyone.” At the start of the season, I issued a caution. There must be repercussions the next time.”