Erik ten Hag destroyed Cristiano Ronaldo and the other Manchester United players who left Old Trafford before the end of Sunday’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano.
In the clearest sign yet of Ten Hag getting tough with the Portuguese striker, the United manager accused Ronaldo and his teammates of “unacceptable” behavior after revealing they were not allowed to leave the stadium before the game was over.
United sources said the situation was an internal disciplinary matter and would not confirm whether the players involved were or would be fined by Ten Hag.
Ronaldo – who had been substituted at halftime in the 1-1 draw in his first pre-season appearance – was photographed leaving Old Trafford about 10 minutes before the final whistle in scenes that only intensified scrutiny surrounding his future.
Teammate Diogo Dalot was also photographed doing the same, although the Portugal defender was not in the United squad for the day, having faced Atlético Madrid in the friendly against Oslo the day before.
And Ten Hag has made it clear that he will not tolerate such behavior after publicly scolding Ronaldo and some teammates in an interview with Dutch television.
“I certainly don’t condone it,” Ten Hag told Viaplay Sport Netherlands. “This is unacceptable. For everyone involved. We are a team and that means you have to stay until the end. [of the game].”
It is unclear which other United players besides Ronaldo Ten Hag was referring to. But the coach had instructed his entire squad – including those who played Atletico the day before – to come to Rayo’s game and eat together before the match as he continued his efforts to bring the dressing room closer.
Most players who played against Atlético watched Rayo’s game from the directors’ box or from their private box. Midfielder Scott McTominay was still seen at Old Trafford an hour after the game ended.
It’s not the first time Ronaldo has disappeared without permission since he returned to Old Trafford last summer. Ralf Rangnick, United’s caretaker manager last season, revealed Ronaldo was not allowed to travel to Portugal on the weekend of the club’s 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in March.
Ten Hag was also asked if Ronaldo fits into her plans.
“I think he can,” the manager told Sky Sports. “He needs to get in shape. He’s just started [training]. He’s a fantastic football player. He’s proven it many times, but you’re always judged by what you’re performing now, performing now. So the team and Cristiano have to prove it.”
Ten Hag has introduced a series of measures to greatly improve discipline among the squad since taking charge in May, with players fined or dismissed if they show up late to team meetings, meals or training.
Steve McClaren, Ten Hag’s assistant, said this week that the players were yearning for more discipline and structure and the coach has now shown he is not afraid to take on the club’s most outstanding player.
Ronaldo and Ten Hag appeared to have a tense exchange on the sideline during a first-half drinks break, with the unstable forward looking clearly impressed, and the 37-year-old is expected to start the new season on the bench.
United face Brighton at Old Trafford in their opening Premier League game on Sunday, with Anthony Martial expected to lead the charge.
Having missed United’s entire pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia citing family reasons, Ronaldo only returned to the club’s training base in Carrington last Tuesday in the company of his agent Jorge Mendes, who has entered into negotiations with the club. about your client’s future.
United have refused to give up their position that Ronaldo is not for sale and the player’s hopes of moving to a Champions League side are fading with a number of top clubs pulling away from transfers.