Manchester United’s midweek win marked a near-perfect day for the English football giants.
They won against Spurs two goals to nil. Absolutely dominated the game from start to end. And now are just a point off of top four.
So why only a ‘near’ perfect day?
The popular, and widely accepted, opinion until yesterday is that Erik Ten Hag decided not to bring on the Portuguese, instead opting for Anthony Elanga. Even after Ronaldo was asked to warm up, which irked many CR7 supporters.
The walk-out was the subject of a post-match interview question, with Ten Hag stating that he would deal with it the next day, not wanting to take away the spotlight from the team’s well-deserved victory.
And dealt with it he has.
In a statement released yesterday, the club confirmed that Ronaldo will not be a part of the squad for their upcoming game against Chelsea.
The statement goes “Cristiano Ronaldo will not be part of the Manchester United squad for this Saturday’s Premier League game against Chelsea. The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for that fixture.”
Ultimate my-way-or-highway move from the manager. Peak Alex Ferguson, we might add.
While some were quick to dismiss Ten Hag as arrogant and aggressive, more details soon came to light which quickly made everyone in favour of the banishment.
Turns out, Ronaldo refused to come on as a sub when asked, which prompted the Elanga substitution. Refusing to come on in a game is simply not acceptable. You play for the team no matter what, when the team needs you, not when it suits you.
Ronaldo’s behaviour turned the conversation against him, with many faithful, and even the board, supporting the manager.
This is not the first time the forward left the game before the final whistle. In July, against Rayo Vallecano in a friendly, Ronaldo left the stadium after being substituted at halftime. He was reprimanded then and warned that such an action should not happen again.
So leaving again against Spurs was a direct disrespect towards the management.
Ronaldo himself realised his mistake, or at least his PR team did, as he released a 174-word message on social media soon after the club statement and was asked to train alone.
“Heat of the moment”, he claims, got the best of him in that situation. Believable. After all, the 37-year-old has made a career out of playing in high-stakes games like these and not be left on the pitch.
Or maybe there is something else at play here as well.
You see, this is not the first time Erik Ten Hag has removed a player from the squad for this kind of infringement.
Back in 2018, when Ten Hag was managing Ajax, he wanted to bring on Amin Younes in an Eredivisie match against SC Heerenveen, with his team winning 4-1.
The German refused to come on for the final few minutes, as can be seen in the video below.
As a result, Ten Hag kicked Amin out of the squad for two weeks and was made to train with Jong Ajax, their development team.
If that treatment is anything to go by, Ronaldo might be in a spot of bother. No player is bigger than the club and with Erik getting the results and the performances, no fan would bat an eyelid at what is happening off the pitch.
It would be interesting to see where we go from here.
Will Ronaldo stay here till summer? Or will January provide him with an exit option he apparently craves?
Will Ten Hag reintegrate him into the squad? Or will the greatest-ever goalscorer see out his final months from the bench?
We can only wait and watch.