Cristiano Ronaldo refused to come on as a substitute before storming down the tunnel in the final moments of Manchester United’s win over Tottenham, manager Erik ten Hag has confirmed, leading to his punishment of being dropped from the first-team squad.
Ronaldo will play no part in United’s trip to Chelsea in the Premier League tomorrow and has been made to train alone after Ten Hag made the decision to banish the forward from his group, a stance which has been fully supported by the club’s hierarchy.
The Portugal international made a swift exit from Old Trafford after he walked down the full before full-time which, when added to Ronaldo’s refusal to come onto the pitch, Ten Hag said clashed with the “standards and values” the Dutchman has set for his players at United.
But the incident was not the first time Ronaldo had left a match early under Ten Hag’s tenure, with the 37-year-old among a group of players who left United’s pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano at half-time after being substituted.
Speaking on Friday, Ten Hag said he had warned his players that there would be “consequences” if the behaviour was repeated and Ronaldo’s latest act of ill-discipline had crossed a line for the United manager.
When asked if Ronaldo had refused to come on, Ten Hag replied, “Yes. The talk is between Cristiano and me. The statement is also clear, I think.”
Ten Hag said Ronaldo would remain an “important part” of the United squad moving forwards, but said the disciplinary action was necessary as he looks to build the right environment at Old Trafford.
“I am responsible for the culture here,” Ten Hag said. “I have to set the standards and values and control them. After Rayo Vallecano, I said it was unacceptable but he wasn’t the only one. That is for everyone.
“When it’s the second time, that will have consequences. That is what we did. We miss him tomorrow. That is a miss for us. For the squad it’s a miss.
“But I think it’s important for the attitude and mentality from the group. Now we have to focus on Chelsea and that is the most important.”
Ronaldo released a statement on Instagram on Thursday night after being dropped from the United squad and although it did not include an apology, the 37-year-old admitted “sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us”.
He added: “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.”