Erik ten Hag has blamed Cristiano Ronaldo and other Manchester United players for leaving Old Trafford while Sunday’s friendly with Rayo Vallecano was in progress and said it was unfair to single out the Portuguese.
Ronaldo, the only matchday squad known to have left early, was pictured outside the stadium with Diogo Dalot, who was not involved. This week the manager said it was ‘unacceptable’ to be out before the final whistle. Ten Hag was asked how he handled this. “You mention it, you fix it, then move on,” he said.
Ten Hag was put down when asked specifically about Ronaldo. “What do you mean? Now I have to point [out] than those who left, there were a lot of players who left, but the spotlight is on Cristiano. That’s not right, so do your research and make up your mind [clear] a lot of players left, that’s what was said [by him].
“I don’t understand what the connection is [singling him out] – he was one of them. There were a lot of players. »
Ten Hag was pressed to find out why Ronaldo and the others felt it was okay to leave early. “I think we have said enough. I said that was not right,” he said.
Ronaldo is keen to leave United and Ten Hag was asked how happy he was with the 37-year-old. “I’m really happy, I already told you that,” he said. “We have a top striker, really happy he’s here with the team and we’re sticking to the plan.”
In pre-season, Ronaldo only played 45 minutes against Rayo and trained for the last two weeks. Ten Hag has confirmed Anthony Martial will miss Brighton’s visit on Sunday with a hamstring injury, but is undecided whether Ronaldo will feature.
“We will see on Sunday,” he said. “I am satisfied with the whole team, we are working well [with a] good culture and Cristiano works very hard and hard.
Ten Hag’s No.1 target is Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, but with less than four weeks remaining in the window, there’s still a stalemate over his pursuit.
“Do we want Frenkie?” said Ten Hag. “His [recruitment] on good players and I cannot comment on a player under contract at another club. When you work with the current team and develop players in your current team, [I see] right now we have players in that position who are performing really well.
Ten Hag said Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martínez are available for selection after their truncated pre-season.