Cristiano Ronaldo was the last Manchester United player to be seen leaving training on Tuesday, following his widely anticipated absence in Sunday’s Manchester derby defeat. Ronaldo was not named to Ralf Rangnick’s matchday squad for the 4-1 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium.
When team news came out on Sunday afternoon, fans were taken aback since the 37-year-old was nowhere to be found.
When asked about Ronaldo’s absence, Rangnick said that he was unable to exercise during the build-up due to a hip flexor strain.
“I have to believe my medical department,” he told Sky Sports.
“Our doctor came to visit me Friday morning before training and told me Cristiano couldn’t train because of hip flexor issues, and the same thing happened Saturday.”
According to reports, Ronaldo was enraged by Rangnick’s decision to start him on the bench following the medical department’s examination.
And the Portuguese legend chose to go home instead, thinking that the warm weather would help his hip troubles.
The United players were perplexed as to why Ronaldo was not present at the team hotel on Saturday night.
However, he reported to training on Tuesday as preparations for Saturday’s titanic game with Tottenham Hotspur in the top-four chase began.
According to The Sun, Ronaldo was the last to depart Carrington after being taken there by security earlier in the day.
There have been whispers that the United icon was left out of the derby for tactical reasons rather than an injury.
And his late exit might signal that he was putting in additional effort to restore his position in Rangnick’s lineup for Tottenham’s visit to Old Trafford.
However, it is possible that he is sticking behind to further rehab his hip flexor ailment, putting doubt on his availability on Saturday.
Rangnick started without a designated striker against Manchester City, with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba pushing forward in a 4-2-2-2 formation.
While it succeeded for the first few minutes as United stood toe-to-toe with the Premier League winners, the visitors quickly fell apart.
Two big games for the season are on the horizon, with Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid coming to M16 in the next week.
And Ronaldo will be anxious for a say as Manchester United’s Premier League and Champions League seasons hang in the balance.