GBR | Oct 3, 2022

Erik ten Hag didn’t see the need to go to his tested asset – Ronaldo

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

If there is one player in world football who can single-handedly turn a game, it is Cristian Ronaldo.

Yet, Manchester United manager, the Dutchman Erik ten Hag, did not play him in the derby match against rivals Manchester City yesterday.

Ronaldo had to sit it out on the bench and watch his manager opt for other substitutes to try to change the fortunes of a team that got a drubbing.

At 4-0 down, and with  Erling Haaaland unstoppable, ten Hag never felt inclined to bring on Manchester United’s top scorer of last season.

Marcus Rashford has played well in some games this season, so too has Jadon Sancho, but both aren’t better strikers than Ronaldo.

Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo is seen on the substitutes bench during the match against Manchester City on Sunday. (Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine)

It is said that, now pushing 38, he is too old and furthermore he doesn’t press. Today it’s all about a team effort. Nevertheless, presented with opportunities, Ronaldo will score.

There is some irony here with Ronaldo originally destined to play for Manchester City but persuaded to return to Manchester United. One wonders what was going through his mind, having to sit on that bench and witness his team take a 6-3 beating and watching Haaland do his thing as the player who may supplant him in the annals of history as the best striker in the world.

It’s a bitter pill.

Erik ten Hag sent a clear message- he doesn’t fancy Cristian Ronaldo but yet won’t let him leave the club.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson left a glorious career as manager, Manchester United have failed to reach the greatest heights. The club has not won any trophies in the last five years, marking their worst performance in 40 years.

It last won a trophy under Jose Mourinho.

Manchester United came into the game against City winning four games on the trot. What transpired exhibited the gulf in class between the respective teams. City is the new top team in Manchester – there can be no doubt about that.

Manchester City had 22 shots on target as opposed to Manchester United’s 12.

The first half was humiliation for United; the second half the team were able to muster up a modicum of respect.

“I didn’t use Cristiano Ronaldo out of respect for his big career.”

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

With five substitutes to choose from, Ronaldo had to watch four other lesser talents run on to the pitch ahead of him to try and turn the game around. He didn’t look happy.

With both Haaland and Phil Foden getting hat tricks, all United could do was walk off the field disconsolately.

It’s back to the drawing board and hopefully a top six position at the end of the season.

When asked why he didn’t bring on Ronaldo, ten Hag told reporters, “I didn’t use Cristiano Ronaldo out of respect for his big career.

“And the other thing was the advantage. I could bring Martial, he needs the minutes, but I don’t want to point it out like that.”

That makes little sense. You have one of the best footballers in the world and your best striker last season sat there watching your team get humiliated.

Roy Keane

Both Roy Keane and Graeme Souness made the observation that Ronaldo should be utilised and it is dumbfounding to see an asset of his proven ability not being brought on at some point during the game.

Souness was sage here, pointing out, “Time is not your friend in football, you have to be winning games today.

‘It’s not about waiting for Marcus Rashford to become the player that most people believe he can be. It’s not about giving Martial, because of his age, a place in the team over Ronaldo. It’s about today in football. Yeah, I would have played Ronaldo.

Keane, a Manchester United legend, on commentary duties, added: “I think Man United are showing disrespect to Ronaldo. I think he should have been let go before the closing of the window.

“Okay, you’re the manager, you need options, but you don’t hold onto Ronaldo to sit him on the bench. He’s one of the greatest players ever.”


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