Wednesday, April 24News That Matters

Erik ten Hag explains decision to axe Ronaldo from Man Utd squad after tantrum

Erik ten Hag says Cristiano Ronaldo failed to live up to the standards he expects after axing him from Manchester United’s squad to face Chelsea after his tantrum against Tottenham.

The 37-year-old, who had been an unused substitute in the game, stormed down the tunnel before the final whistle had been blown in Wednesday’s victory over Spurs.

Some reports also claimed Ronaldo refused to come on in the match and United released a brief statement on Thursday confirming that he would not be available for selection against Chelsea on Sunday as punishment, while he will also train with the youth team.

Ten Hag only spoke about Ronaldo briefly after the win over Spurs, saying the matter would be dealt with, and has now revealed why he came down so strongly on the player as well as confirming that he refused to come on.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, he said: ‘What the talk – if you ask about that – is between Cristiano and me, the statement is also clear, I think. He remains an important player in the squad.

‘I am the manager, I am responsible for the culture here and I have to set standards and values and I have to control them. In the team, we have values and standards and I have to control that.

‘After Vallecano [when Ronaldo left early during a friendly] I told him it was unacceptable but not just him everyone. This is the second time, there are consequences.

‘We miss him tomorrow. It’s a miss for the squad but it’s important for the attitude and mentality of the group and now we have to focus on Chelsea as that is important.’

Probed on whether it was true that Ronaldo refused to come on against Spurs, Ten Hag replied: ‘Yes.’

On why Ronaldo has been made to train away from the senior team for the following week, Ten Hag added: ‘It will be a [time for] reflection for him, but also for everyone else.

‘I said at the start of the season, next time there have to be consequences otherwise when you are living together and playing together, football is a team sport and you have to fulfil certain standards. And I have to control it.’

Taking to Instagram on Thursday after United’s statement, Ronaldo gave his version of events, saying: ‘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 get’s the best of us.

‘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.’

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