Cristiano Ronaldo’s early departure from Old Trafford during Sunday’s friendly with Rayo Vallecano was “unacceptable”, according to Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.
The Portugal forward was seen leaving United’s stadium before the end of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the La Liga side, the club’s final pre-season friendly before the start of the new Premier League season.
Ronaldo was pictured leaving Old Trafford with his United team-mate Diogo Dalot, but unlike his compatriot, the defender had not been included in the club’s squad to play Vallecano.
However, the 37-year-old – whose future at United is in doubt with reports he wants to leave in order to play for a club competing in next season’s Champions League – had featured in the first half against the Spaniards, before being substituted at the interval.
Ten Hag, though, was unimpressed with Ronaldo’s actions, telling Dutch media outlets AD and Viaplay that while “he was not the only one who left after half-time, I tell them [the players] that it’s unacceptable. That we are a team, and that you need to stay right until the very end.”
Ronaldo was absent for United’s recent pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia while he dealt with a family issue and only returned to training last week, when he and his agent, Jorge Mendes, held further talks about his future.
United are insistent, however, that they will not sanction the sale of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who is firmly in Ten Hag’s plans, although the new United boss has admitted the player is still a long way behind his team-mates in terms of fitness.
“He is not on the level of the rest of the squad because he missed a lot of weeks,” Ten Hag told Viaplay before Sunday’s clash with Rayo. “But he needs games and he needs training, a lot.”
Much has been made of whether Ronaldo fits into the new style of play Ten Hag is trying to implement at Old Trafford and whether he still has the ability to press from the front and play in a modern system.
However, Ten Hag, speaking in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports ahead of the new Premier League season, believes the Portugal international can prove that he can.
“I think he can,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “It starts with him getting fit because he’s only just started.
“He is a fantastic football player, and he has proved it so many times, but you are always judged on what you are presenting now and how you are performing now.
“So, the team and Cristiano himself has to prove it.”
United kick off their Premier League campaign at home to Brighton on Super Sunday, with the game live on Sky Sports Premier League.
‘We are happy with transfer window so far’
When asked if he was frustrated with Man Utd’s transfer window, Erik Ten Hag told Sky Sports:
“I’m not frustrated at all.
“First of all, we have a squad and we have already made progress. We are more pro-active than we were at the start.
“Second is the players who we have now signed. We are really happy with them. You can already see that they can contribute to the squad.
“The last thing is that we know what we want. It’s not about signing players; it’s about signing the right players.
“So, we are really planning it carefully and we are sticking to that and working hard to get the right players in to construct a good squad and a squad that can win games.”