Erik ten Hag has said he punished Cristiano Ronaldo because the Portuguese star failed to live up to the standards he has set at Manchester United as he confirmed the player refused to come on as a substitute in the match against Tottenham.
Ronaldo has been disciplined by Ten Hag after he refused to come off the bench on Wednesday – exclusively revealed by Sportsmail on Thursday – and stormed down the tunnel before leaving Old Trafford prior to full-time.
The Dutchman acted swiftly and sternly as he axed Ronaldo from the matchday squad for the trip to Chelsea on Saturday and banished the 37-year-old from first-team training.
Ten Hag also revealed he dropped Ronaldo for clash at Stamford Bridge for the sake of the squad and said he had little choice but to take action after the player had been warned for leaving at half-time in a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano.
‘I am the manager, I am responsible for top spot culture here and I have to set standards and values and I have to control them,’ he said.
‘In the team, we have values and standards and I have to control that. After Vallecano, I told him it was unacceptable but not him everyone, this is the second time, there are consequences.
‘We miss him tomorrow, it’s a miss for the squad but it’s important for the attitude and mentality of the group and now we have to focus on Chelsea as that is important.
‘I think it will have a (time for) reflection for him, but also for everyone else, I sent a warning at the start of the season, next time there have to be consequences otherwise when you are living together when you are playing together, football is a team sport and you have to fulfil certain standards. And I have to control it.’
Ronaldo on Friday arrived with the under-21s and underwent individual training with a fitness coach as he got used to life in exile at United following the remarkable scenes at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Ten Hag also confirmed Ronaldo was still part of his plans despite the incident. ‘He remains an important part of the squad,’ the Dutchman said.
United would not comment on Thursday night on whether Ronaldo had been fined the maximum two weeks’ wages, which would cost him £1million.
en Hag had vowed to ‘deal’ with Ronaldo and the punishment, meted out during showdown talks with Ronaldo, 37, at Carrington on Thursday, has the full support of the Old Trafford hierarchy.
Ronaldo, who has since issued a statement on Instagram but stopped short of apologising, headed down the tunnel in the 89th minute, picked up his belongings from the dressing room and left Old Trafford before the final whistle. The public nature of his departure meant Ten Hag and United had no option but to act.
It had initially been assumed that his exit was in response on being dropped to the bench but it has since emerged that Ronaldo was told to go on by Ten Hag before snubbing his manager.
The incident was the latest episode of a strained relationship between the Portuguese star and Ten Hag, who has further stamped his authority on United with the way he has handled a difficult situation.
It is understood the player has shown thinly veiled disdain for Ten Hag and his coaching team, to the extent of blatantly ignoring one senior staff figure.
Ronaldo has been openly critical of training and believes United should play in a different way.
The players are said to be aware of Ronaldo and Ten Hag clashing on a daily basis, although it is not affecting the spirit in camp.
Reports have suggested the 37-year-old has lost his remaining allies in the dressing room as a result of his latest public display of petulance.
In a statement on Instagram, Ronaldo said: ‘As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches. That hasn’t changed.
‘I haven’t changed. I’m the same person and the same professional that I’ve been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision making process.
‘I started very young, the older and most experienced players examples were always very important to me. Therefore, later on, I’ve always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I’ve represented.
‘Unfortunately that’s not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment get’s the best of us.
‘Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates and be ready for everything in any given game. Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United, and united we must stand. Soon we’ll be together again.’
Ronaldo told the club he wanted to leave in the summer but was unable to secure a move away, largely owing to his huge wage demands. The only offer to have come in for the player was from a team in Saudi Arabia, and Ronaldo is thought to have wanted to join a side in the Champions League.
Ten Hag still sees Ronaldo as a valuable member of the squad and sources said on Thursday night there is no desire to cut the player adrift despite the latest fall-out.
However, it is increasingly apparent that a parting of the ways would be best for both parties in the January transfer window, if Ronaldo can find a new club and United can sign a replacement striker.
The former Real Madrid forward has often cut a frustrated figure under Ten Hag this season.
Ronaldo has struggled for starts in the league, with the Dutchman largely opting for quicker forwards who are more willing and able to press.
He was visibly annoyed at being substituted with 20 minutes to go in the game with Newcastle on Sunday as United were chasing a winner. Marcus Rashford was brought on to replace him and missed a golden chance to win the match deep into stoppage time.