Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken out after storming out of Old Trafford on Thursday evening after refusing to play against Tottenham.
The Portuguese midfielder was named to the bench for United’s match against Tottenham, where his teammates produced arguably their best performance under Erik ten Hag to date, defeating Antonio Conte’s side 2-0.
With minutes remaining in the game, Ronaldo was seen marching down the touchline and into the tunnel, clearly frustrated by his lack of involvement. The Portuguese walked away from the scene. Despite the fact that most of the attention had been focused on the obstinate Portuguese, it is believed that post-match celebrations continued.
Ronaldo attempted to provide something resembling his side of the story on Instagram, noting that ‘respect’ was a major factor in his decision-making.
‘As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, adversaries, and coaches,’ wrote the former Real Madrid forward. This has not changed. I’ve not changed. I’m the same person and professional I’ve been for the last 20 years of playing elite football, and respect has always played a big part in my decision-making.’
It is unclear whether Ronaldo is referring to his perception of a lack of respect from the club and Ten Hag.
‘I started very young, and the older and most experienced players’ examples were always very important to me,’ he added. As a result, I’ve always tried to set a good example for the young people who grew up in all of the teams I’ve represented.’ Unfortunately, that is not always possible, and sometimes our emotions get the best of us.
‘Right now, all I know is that I need to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates, and be prepared for anything in any given game.’ It is not an option to give in to the pressure. It was never the case. This is Manchester United, and we must stand together. We’ll be together again soon.’
United issued a statement on Thursday revealing that Ronaldo had been removed from their squad for Saturday’s trip to Chelsea, and that he will be training separately from the senior squad for the time being.
It had been assumed that Ronaldo’s rage stemmed from his failure to be introduced, but it is revealed on Thursday afternoon that the forward, who returned to United after more than a decade away last year, had actually declined to come on.