Manchester United have responded to Cristiano Ronaldo’s accusation that he is being forced out of the club by highlighting the “togetherness” being built under Erik ten Hag, their manager.
In a Talk TV interview to be broadcast later this week, previewed by a newspaper article by his interviewer, Piers Morgan, and among a litany of complaints about the club he returned to in the summer of 2021, Ronaldo critcised Ten Hag, saying of the current Manchester United manager: “I don’t have respect for him because he doesn’t show respect for me.”
United’s response on Monday to Ronaldo’s Sunday night revelations was to release a three-sentence statement. “Manchester United notes the media coverage regarding an interview by Cristiano Ronaldo,” it read. “The club will consider its response after the full facts have been established.
“Our focus remains on preparing for the second half of the season and continuing the momentum, belief and togetherness being built among the players, manager, staff, and fans.”
United signed off for their World Cup break by beating Fulham 2-1 via a last-minute goal from Alejandro Garnacho, a match Ronaldo missed, as he had the midweek Carabao Cup victory over Aston Villa, his absence due to “sickness”. He is set to lead Portugal in Qatar in what is likely to be his final World Cup.
Having failed to get a move away in the summer, finding no takers in the Champions League echelon he still considers his natural habitat, Ronaldo stayed on but has been unable to prove his worth. Ten Hag favours a high-pressing style that does not favour the 37-year-old. Ronaldo made a belated arrival to United’s pre-season. He told Morgan stayed in Portugal to attend to his three-month-old daughter, who was hospitalised in July. He accused the club’s hierarchy of a lack of empathy, having lost his daughter’s twin brother, who died in childbirth.
Ten Hag’s team are in fifth place, having recovered from their poor start while Ronaldo has contributed just one Premier League goal. He top-scored last season with 24 goals, but his interview with Morgan included criticism of Ralf Rangnick, interim manager last season after the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. “If you’re not even a coach, how are you going to be the boss of Manchester United?” he said of the German. “I’d never even heard of him.”
Ronaldo suggested that certain, unnamed senior figures at the club wanted him out last season. He also highlighted a lack of development since he first departed United in 2009 and Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013: “He knows better than anybody that the club is not on the path they deserve to be,” he said of Ferguson.
The two-part interview sees Ronaldo hitting back at former teammate Wayne Rooney for perceived criticism, including the club’s record goalscorer among his betrayers. “Probably because he finished his career and I’m still playing at high level,” said Ronaldo, whose last game for United now seems likely to be 6 November’s 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa.