Cristiano Ronaldo dropped from Manchester United squad after storming down tunnel

Erik ten Hag has decided that Ronaldo will not be part of his plans ahead of Saturday’s match at Stamford Bridge after the forward left United’s win over Tottenham before full-time

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Friday 21 October 2022 09:03 BST
United banish Ronaldo from first team for Chelsea

Cristiano Ronaldo will not be part of Manchester United’s squad to play Chelsea after being disciplined by Erik ten Hag.

The 37-year-old will be training separately from the rest of United's first team squad for the next three days after leaving Old Trafford before the end of Wednesday's 2-0 Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur.

The decision to punish Ronaldo is Ten Hag's, with the United manager holding responsibility for disciplinary matters, and it is understood that he has the support of the club's hierarchy. United say that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner remains an important part of the squad.

In a statement, United said: “Cristiano will not be part of the Manchester United squad for this Saturday’s game against Chelsea. The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for that fixture.”

After being left out of the starting line-up and failing to come on, Ronaldo left his seat in Old Trafford's home dugout and headed down the players' tunnel in the 90th minute of United's win against Tottenham, before stoppage time had been played and the final whistle had blown.

United have refused to comment on whether Ronaldo had initially refused Ten Hag's order to come on as a substitute before making his exit. Ten Hag had only made three of a possible five substitutions at the time and when asked about Ronaldo after the final whistle, the manager said: “I have seen him [leaving], I didn’t speak to him after. I will deal with that tomorrow [Thursday].”

In a statement on Instagram, Ronaldo insisted that “respect has always played a very important role in my decision making process” and was adamant that he tries to set a good example for United’s younger players.

But Ronaldo admitted that “sometimes the heat of the moment get’s the best of us”. He added: “Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates 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.”

The incident was not the first example of Ronaldo leaving a match early during Ten Hag's tenure, however. The Portugal international left Old Trafford midway through a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano having been substituted by Ten Hag at half time in July.

Ten Hag stressed that Ronaldo was not the only player to leave early on that occasion, insisting that focusing criticism solely on Ronaldo was "not right", but described the conduct of the players in question as "unacceptable".

Ronaldo spent the summer agitating for a move away from Old Trafford following United's failure to qualify for the Champions League last season but struggled to find suitors who could match his salary demands.

The 37-year-old is United's highest-earning player, with a salary believed to be in the region of £500,000-a-week, which proved a stumbling block in solidifying interest from the likes of Napoli and Atletico Madrid.

United travel to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Saturday’s evening kick-off.

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