Cristiano Ronaldo Walking Off Early Sparks Erik Ten Hag Criticism

Erik Ten Hag‘s Manchester United have had a great couple of weeks. After having a rough start to the season, losing 4-0 to Brentford, they have had a resurgence since, beating Arsenal, Liverpool and now, Tottenham Hotspur

It seems like Ten Hag has found the formula for success in the club, and all pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. 

But there is this one piece that stands out like a grey cloud in the clear skies – a certain global superstar named Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo is no ordinary player. Being the highest goal scorer in the history of the sport doesn’t even begin to cover his accolades. He has got more trophies than we can count on two hands, and more records than we can fathom. 

But with all this incredible success, come incredible expectations. 

These expectations go two ways. The first is the expectation the team has of the player. The expectation is of this GOAT-level player to perform at the same level whenever it is asked of him to do so. That means scoring goals, bagging hat tricks, winning games, and leading the team to success.

On the other hand, is the expectation that the player has of the team. The player, having established himself as one of the best to ever grace the game, would expect to start at a club where he has provided goals, hat tricks, and countless trophies. 

Between the player and the manager, neither of the expectations is being met. The Portuguese has found himself in a goal drought, scoring only twice this season so far. The Dutchman has consequently decided to drop him from the starting XI of the team. 

This was as evident as ever last night when The Red Devils hosted Spurs at Old Trafford

Not only did Ronaldo not start, but he also was not even subbed in.

What’s more is that Ten Hag decided to bring on youngster Elanga, who also has been out of form, instead of Ronaldo. This caused Ronaldo to get up and leave the pitch in the 89th minute before the game even ended. 

It was reported by the Athletic that Ronaldo left the stadium altogether after walking out, not just the pitch. That is a pretty big statement to make.

After the game was over, the manager was asked about this incident, and he answered it by saying that he will deal with it over the coming days, choosing instead to bask in the glory of what he hailed as their best performance of the season.

CR7 fans did not take kindly to this treatment. They took to Twitter to justify his behaviour and respond to criticism headed Ronaldo’s way.

The treatment is worse than it looks when we go back to the transfer saga at the beginning of the season. It was anybody’s guess as to whether Ronaldo would stay or leave. 

Ten Hag famously mentioned that Ronaldo is a part of his project and that he has decided to stay because of it. So to not play him after saying he’s a part of the project is surely an argument to consider. 

Not subbing on a player in a game is still acceptable. What irked fans, and probably even Ronaldo himself, was that he was specifically asked to warm up. 

Usually, when a player is asked to warm up, it is because they are going to be subbed in. 

To warm up and then not get subbed in is like throwing coal in the engine and then not turning the engine on – odd.

Then came the shouts about how Ten Hag decided to sub on Elanga instead of Ronaldo, both of whom play in the same position.

The youngster is the faster player who could have utilised the tired Tottenham spaces more effectively, but Ronaldo is well-established and has deserved the right to be given the chance to prove himself again. 

Mark Goldbridge, in classic Mark-way, blamed the situation on the Glazers for failing to sell Ronaldo when he wanted to leave. 

Despite Ten Hag stating Ronaldo is a part of the plan, many like Mark Goldbridge believe he actually isn’t.

One of them is Rio Ferdinand, who also said that Ronaldo should be allowed to leave as it is clear Ten Hag does not want to play him.

From one perspective, it’s understandable why Ten Hag is choosing to do so. If a striker isn’t scoring goals, there are others in his position who could. 

Another perspective explains how if a striker who is arguably the greatest striker to ever play, finds himself in a tough spot, the manager should give him the game time to find his form again.

Either way, it will be interesting to see when and where Ten Hag decides to play Ronaldo next. United play Chelsea on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, and it is hard to see him start there. 

Maybe this time from the bench, eh?