Erik ten Hag in scathing attack on Cristiano Ronaldo as real reasons behind Man Utd exit come to light

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag and Cristiano Ronaldo Credit: Alamy
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag and Cristiano Ronaldo Credit: Alamy

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has gone after Cristiano Ronaldo after accusing the Portuguese forward of stabbing him in the back over his wish to leave Old Trafford.

The Portuguese star is a free agent after having his contract at United terminated. And while the officially party line was that it was a mutually agreement, there was clearly plenty of disharmony in the ranks. And it all came to a head when Ronaldo conducted a no-holds barred interview with Piers Morgan.

In the interview, Ronaldo hit out at the Glazers, Ten Hag himself and, perhaps more diplomatically, a number of teammates. Even two United legends in Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney were caught up in the storm.

Behind the scenes, Ten Hag reportedly came to a very quick decision and brutal two-word verdict on the player.

Publicly, Ten Hag had kept his counsel, releasing only one 17-word statement on Ronaldo’s departure.

However, Ronaldo’s public rinsing of United and Ten Hag clearly has not sat at all well with the Dutchman. And with tensions rising to the surface, the United manager has gone public on what he really thinks about the player.

United are currently on a tour of Spain as they prepare for the resumption of the Premier League. And during an hour-long press conference, it was put to Ten Hag that Ronaldo did not have the decency to inform him of his wish to leave.

Reflecting on the interview, and what has happened behind the scenes in the build-up, Ten Hag did not hold back.

Ten Hag lashes out at Ronaldo

With the Daily Mail claiming Ten Hag feels stabbed in the back by Ronaldo, the manager responded to claims that he was let down by the player’s dishonesty.

“Yes, so it is,” said Ten Hag. “In the summer we had one talk. He came in and said, ‘I will tell you in seven days if I want to stay’. Then he came back and said, ‘I want to stay’.

“Until that moment (the interview) I never heard anything. He never told me, ‘I want to leave’.

“The interview I think, as a club, you can’t accept. There will be consequences. To make that step, he knew the consequences.”

Asked if the interview left United with no choice but to tear up his contract, Ten Hag gave an honest answer.

“I have seen most of it, but not all of it. I think it was quite clear after that he had to leave,” added Ten Hag, who, along with chief executive Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough, decided to rip up the player’s deal after the interview aired.

“We didn’t have to discuss it. It was quite clear. Richard, John, me, it was (done).

“I think the club can only be successful and operate when all the decision-makers are on one page and back each other.”

Star double-crossed United manager

Ten Hag had stood by Ronaldo in the wake of his temper tantrum against Tottenham. After initially dropping the player from their next matchday squad, the player was ushered back into the side, even handing him the captaincy for the game against Aston Villa.

After the match – a disappointing 3-1 defeat – Ten Hag named Ronaldo as one of his six United leaders.

But with the interview airing shortly after, Ronaldo put in motion the wheels for a very public and messy divorce.

Asked if he can ever forgive Ronaldo what he did, Ten Hag added: “I don’t want to answer this situation. I am open to talk with him, so why not?

“I did everything honest, open and transparent, and we had talks about my vision, so I don’t have a problem to talk with him. Not that I would say something in particular to him.”

Despite Ronaldo’s previous efforts to force his way out, Ten Hag was keen to keep him at the club.

“I wanted him to stay from the first moment until now but he wanted to leave,” he added.

‘Time to move on’

“When a player definitely doesn’t want to be in this club then he has to go, that’s clear. We want a new future of Manchester United and he didn’t want to be part of it. So it is time to move on.

“We are in a process. Ronaldo was part of it but he has chosen to take another pathway. I would have preferred it to be a different way because I wanted to work with him. He chose another way.

“I did everything to bring him into the team because I value his quality. We wanted him to be part of our project and contribute to Manchester United because he is a great player. He has such a great history, but it’s the past and we have to look into the future. I don’t spend my energy on it.”

READ MORE: Seven clubs that have distanced themselves from signing Cristiano Ronaldo

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