Thursday, April 18News That Matters

Erik ten Hag hits back at Ronaldo over Man Utd exit

Cristiano Ronaldo has had his say about Erik ten Hag and the Manchester United boss has spoken at length for the first time about the player’s departure.

Ten Hag has accused Cristiano Ronaldo of double-crossing him by engineering his exit from the club and claimed the Portuguese star was not in “good shape”.

In a 90-minute chat on Talk TV that aired on November 16, Ronaldo said he had “no respect” for Ten Hag and made a couple of unflattering accusations about the club’s owners and facilities.

Ten Hag did not speak to Ronaldo after his sit-down with Piers Morgan aired and revealed the player never had the decency to tell him in person that he wanted to leave Old Trafford.

During a luncheon with the Manchester Evening News & other members of the British press at the club’s winter training camp in Jerez on Friday, Ten Hag said: “I think it was quite clear after [the interview] that he had to leave. I think we didn’t have to discuss it. It was quite clear. Richard [Arnold], John [Murtough], me.

“Yes [I watched the interview]. Not all of it. I have seen most of it. I have to do it. It is part of my job to do it. I went to Uefa (for the coaches’ convention) when it came out.

“I think the club can only be successful when all the decision-makers in the club are on one page and they back each other. That is the only way the club can be successful and operate.

“I wanted him to stay from the first moment until now. He wanted to leave, it was quite clear. And when a player definitely doesn’t want to be in this club then he has to go, clear.

“The interview I think, as a club, you can’t accept. There will be consequences. To make that step he knew the consequences. Before he never told me [he wanted to leave].

“During the season there was no window but until that moment he never told me ‘I want to leave’. You (gestures to suggest everyone knew Ronaldo wanted out) don’t have to see it.

“In the summer, we had one talk. He came in and said ‘I will tell you in seven days if I want to stay’. Then he came back and said ‘I want to stay’. Until that moment (the interview), I never heard anything.

“As you said, it is the past. We are looking to the future. Move on. I want to go to the future. We want a new future of Manchester United and he didn’t want to be part of it. We move on.

“When he is in good shape, he is a good player and he could help us to get back and achieve the objectives we have. That is quite clear. But he wasn’t.”

Despite Ronaldo’s acrimonious exit, Ten Hag would not hesitate to speak to him in the future. “Oh yeah. Not in particular that I would ask him something or if I would say something to him. I did everything honest and open and transparent and we had talks about my vision, so I don’t have a problem to talk with him.

“I don’t want to answer such a question (if he could forgive Ronaldo). I am open to talk with him so why not. Yeah, it can be [he showed a lack of respect]. But I don’t give anything to that. We move forward. I don’t want to spend energy on that. It is the past. We are moving forward.

“Once again, for me, he did what he did. It is the past. I don’t spend energy. We go forward and we prepare. So when [the World Cup participants] return, we still have games to play in the first half of the season. We want to make a success of this season, so we focus on that.

“We are in a process. We are moving on. Ronaldo was part of it but he has chosen to take another pathway.”

When it was suggested Ten Hag tried to manage Ronaldo’s decline and it was thrown back in his face, he said: “Yes, but he chose. I don’t want to spend energy on that. I would have preferred it to be in a different way because I wanted to work with him. He chose another way.

“We wanted him to be part of our project, to contribute to Manchester United because he is a great player. He has such a great history, but it’s the past and we have to look into the future and I don’t spend my energy on it.”

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