Erik ten Hag: Cristiano Ronaldo angry when he does not play for Manchester United

Erik ten Hag: Cristiano Ronaldo angry when he does not play for Manchester United - GETTY IMAGES
Erik ten Hag: Cristiano Ronaldo angry when he does not play for Manchester United - GETTY IMAGES

Cristiano Ronaldo has been “p-----” off about not playing for Manchester United, according to Erik ten Hag.

But the United manager says Ronaldo has handled the disappointment well and insists the Portugal star remains happy around the club.

Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure as he was left on the bench throughout Sunday’s shambolic 6-3 defeat to Manchester City, with Ten Hag taking the surprise step on Wednesday of thanking their derby rivals and Pep Guardiola for teaching his players a lesson.

After a summer in which he failed to get the move he wanted, Telegraph Sport reported on Tuesday how Ronaldo was now eyeing a January move, barring a dramatic change in his fortunes at Old Trafford, and that Ten Hag was open to a transfer if a suitable offer was forthcoming.

With the World Cup finals in Qatar looming next month, Ronaldo is desperate for more regular playing time and seems likely to start against Omonia Nicosia – who are coached by former Celtic manager Neil Lennon – in United’s third Europa League Group E tie in Cyprus on Thursday evening.

Ten Hag admitted Ronaldo was not happy about being on the bench so often, with the 37-year-old having started just once in the Premier League this term, but praised the player’s professionalism.

“He’s not happy that he wasn’t playing Sunday, but that wasn’t the question,” the United manager said. “The question was about how he is on the training pitch, his mood when he’s around, and he’s happy. Of course he wants to play, he’s p----- off when he’s not playing. Clear.”

Having missed United’s entire pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia for personal reasons, Ronaldo was already behind his team-mates in fitness terms and the lack of minutes has created added problems and brought his future into sharp focus once again.

Ten Hag: City handed us a reality check

Ten Hag claimed after the City game that he had not brought on Ronaldo “out of respect to his big career” and reiterated that stance on Wednesday. “That he’s not coming on when we are 4-0 down, 5-1 down, 6-1 down and I don’t bring him [on] out of respect. So, nothing to do [with] what’s happening for the future, what’s happening for January or next year.

“It’s always about how you live by the day. You line up the strongest team you have but there are differences. I will treat everyone with respect but they all have different backgrounds and characters.

“I have to treat players different to get the best out of them but there are general standards and values that count for everyone.

“I never talk about my conversations with the players - they are between us - but if you’re here and happy or satisfied to be on the bench this is not a club where you have to be, especially Cristiano. He’s really competitive, as we all know. He’s not happy when he’s not playing but he’s training well, he has a good mood, he’s motivated and he gives his best. That is what we expect.”

Lennon believes Ronaldo could be in for a “bumpy season” but says it will be a “great thrill” to see him line up against his side.

Ten Hag held an inquest with his players and staff on Monday over the derby debacle and admitted the performance was both “unacceptable” and a “reality check”, which has increased the pressure to get a result against Omonia and then Everton on Sunday.

“We get a reality check with Man City – so we know we have to step up,” he said. “So thank you for the lesson, from Pep and City. We will take that and we have to understand we have to do things much better.”

The injured quartet of Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Donny van de Beek did not make the trip to Cyprus. Varane sustained an ankle injury against City but Ten Hag expects the France centre-half to recover soon. However, Maguire “will take a little bit longer” to come back, according to the manager. Ten Hag could not put a timescale on Wan-Bissaka and Van de Beek’s anticipated returns.