Erik ten Hag is planning to have Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United this season and says it’s unfair the Portugal star was singled out for criticism for leaving last Sunday’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano early.
Ten Hag said in an interview with Dutch television this week that it was ‘unacceptable’ for players to go home before the end of a game.
That was widely viewed as a swipe at Ronaldo, who was pictured leaving Old Trafford 10 minutes from full-time after playing the first half.
Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at Manchester United’s training ground on Friday morning
The forward appeared to leave the friendly with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford early
However, Ten Hag insists that his comments were aimed at all the players who left, saying: ‘Now I have to point out, those who left … they were many players who left but the spotlight is on Cristiano, that is not right.
‘So do your research and make out many players left, that was what was said. I don’t understand what is the relation, he was part of it. There were a lot of players.’
Asked if he has spoken to the players about what he expects from them in future, Ten Hag added: ‘I think we’ve said enough on it. I said it’s not correct. You mention it, you correct them, then move on.’
The Rayo game was Ronaldo’s first appearance of pre-season after missing the club’s tour of Australia and Thailand for personal reasons.
Erik ten Hag says the spotlight should not be on Ronaldo alone for leaving before full-time
Ten Hag praised the pre-season work of his players in his press conference on Friday afternoon
Anthony Martial is unavailable for the clash with the Seagulls due to a minor hamstring issue
The 37-year-old has asked to leave Old Trafford, but Ten Hag insists that he sees the player staying this season.
‘I’m satisfied with the whole team, we’re working good, we have a top striker. I’m really happy he’s here with the squad and we stick to the plan.’
Ten Hag must decide whether to throw Ronaldo straight into action in place of the injured Anthony Martial against Brighton on Sunday despite his lack of match action. ‘We will see Sunday. I think we will have solutions to sort it out,’ he said.