Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has defended his decision why he did not include Cristiano Ronaldo in his starting lineup against Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League opener which saw the Red Devils fall in Old Trafford.
Ten Hag said the Portuguese have not trained with the squad, consistently, to guarantee him a complete game time.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is now, maybe for ten days, in team training and that’s too short for 90 minutes. So that’s the reason we didn’t start him,” he said.
Manchester United conceded two goals from the Seagulls in the first half despite their good start but the Dutchman faulted it on the team’s drop in confidence which resulted in certain mistakes that were catastrophic.
He added, “I think it was a good start [to the game]. And then after that, we dropped a level, we dropped down in belief and we made mistakes and the opponent punished us.”
The Seagulls made a good impact in the game and the Dutchman was quick to acknowledge them for their prowess.
“But I think it’s [Brighton & Hove Albion] a good opponent. They work long hours together. And, you know, when you make mistakes, you get punished for that against such teams,” Ten Hag said.
He continued: “I know it could happen, but I think we should have done better. That’s clear. But I also know that it will not come overnight. And sometimes we played better in the preseason. Today, we had a really bad period during the first half. And we have to learn from that. That’s also clear.”
Manchester United last season under Ole Gunnar Solskjær won their Premier League opening match 5-1 against Leeds United in Old Trafford.
Furthermore, the former Ajax coach lampooned Ronaldo for his behaviour while he was on the bench. Ten Hag stressed that such an act is unacceptable in a squad that is supposed to stay together.
He said, “More players did that. I don’t accept that. Absolutely not. That is unacceptable. I tell them this, that is unacceptable. We are a team, we are a squad. You have to stay until the end.”
Ronaldo, during the match against Brighton & Hove Albion, displayed a sarcastic facial look to express his disappointment for not being included in the line-up.