Erik ten Hag has upbraided Cristiano Ronaldo and other Manchester United players who left Old Trafford while Sunday’s friendly with Rayo Vallecano was ongoing and stated it was unfair to single out the Portuguese.
Ronaldo, the only one in the matchday squad known to have departed early, was photographed outside the stadium with Diogo Dalot, who was not involved. This week the manager stated it was “unacceptable” to have exited before the final whistle. Ten Hag was asked how he had dealt with this. “You mention it, you correct them, then move on,” he said.
Ten Hag bridled when asked specifically about Ronaldo. “What do you mean? Now I have to point [out] that those who left, there were many players who left, but the spotlight is on Cristiano. That is not right, so do your research and make out [clear] many players left, that was what was said [by him].
“I don’t understand what is the relationship [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 OK to leave early. “I think we’ve said enough on it. I said it’s not correct,” he said.
Ronaldo wishes to leave United and Ten Hag was asked how content 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’s here with the squad and we stick to the plan.”
In pre-season Ronaldo has played only 45 minutes against Rayo and trained over the past two weeks. Ten Hag confirmed Anthony Martial would miss Brighton’s visit on Sunday with a hamstring injury but he would not be drawn on whether Ronaldo will feature.
“We will see Sunday,” he said. “I’m satisfied with the whole team, we’re working good [with a] good culture and Cristiano is working really tough and hard.”
Ten Hag’s No 1 target is Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong but with less than four weeks remaining of the window there continues to be a stalemate regarding his pursuit.
“We want Frenkie?” said Ten Hag. “It’s [recruitment] about the right players and I cannot give comments on a player under contract at another club. When you work with the current squad and develop players in your current squad, [I see] in this moment that we have players in that position who perform really well.”
Ten Hag stated Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martínez were available for selection after their truncated pre-season.