Cristiano Ronaldo marches down tunnel before full-time after sitting on bench



Erik ten Hag said he would ‘deal’ with the issue on Thursday as Manchester United thrived without Ronaldo against Spurs

Ronaldo heads down tunnel at Old Trafford - Cristiano Ronaldo marches down tunnel before full-time after sitting on bench

Erik ten Hag said he will “deal” with Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday after the forward walked off before the final whistle of Manchester United’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

In an apparent show of petulance Ronaldo, who was an unused substitute, left the bench with four minutes still to play and clearly without Ten Hag’s permission. The 37-year-old, who was desperate to leave United in the summer, walked down the tunnel as the game continued.

“I have seen him [leaving], I didn’t speak to him after. I will deal with that tomorrow,” Ten Hag said after Wednesday’s win. “Today I enjoyed this performance we are celebrating this victory and now we have to recover from this and we have a big game against Chelsea (on Saturday).”

When asked again whether he had spoken to Ronaldo, Ten Hag reiterated: “No, I don’t pay attention today. I will deal with it tomorrow. I want to focus on the team. It was a magnificent performance from the players.”

Ronaldo attempted to leave United during the last window but the club did not receive an acceptable offer for him despite his agent, Jorge Mendes, trying to interest Chelsea, Bayern Munich and other clubs.

Telegraph Sport reported earlier this month that Ten Hag is happy for Ronaldo to leave in January and it is clear that the striker is no longer important to the manager’s plans.

It is not the first time Ronaldo has left a game early this season. He was substituted at half-time in the pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano and left, drawing a rebuke from Ten Hag who made a point that it was “unacceptable”.

The manager also criticised the focus being placed on Ronaldo, as other players also left the friendly early, but this time it was only the Portuguese international and it was during a vital Premier League game.

Ten Hag preferred Marcus Rashford to Ronaldo – with Rashford having replaced him during Sunday’s goalless draw at home to Newcastle United. In that game also Ronaldo did not hide his unhappiness as he sat on the bench.

“Against this Tottenham you need good pressing, you need good counter-press,” Ten Hag explained. “Offensive-wise you need dynamic and that is what Marcus gives. You saw that in the last 20 minutes against Newcastle when he came on.”

There will be frustration at United, and with Ten Hag, that the most impressive display of the campaign was overshadowed by Ronaldo’s behaviour. “It was the best team performance so far this season,” Ten Hag said. “Once again it was a squad performance. We deal with that (Ronaldo) tomorrow. What we have seen today was 11 players who defend and 11 players who attack. There was a lot of dynamic. I am not totally satisfied because good is not good enough.”

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