Erik ten Hag has stated that he is in charge of “standards and values” at Manchester United after confirming that Cristiano Ronaldo refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday and subsequently suspending the forward for this weekend’s trip to Chelsea. “There has to be consequences,” proclaimed the United manager.
Ronaldo left Old Trafford before full time after leaving the substitutes bench and exiting down the tunnel in the 89th minute of United’s 2-0 win in midweek. The Portuguese international is now training alone and had been dropped from the matchday squad for Saturday’s fixture.
Asked directly whether Ronaldo refused to come on, Ten Hag replied: “Yes.” He added that after the forward did the same at half time of the friendly against Rayo Vallecano in pre-season, he felt he had to act. “The talk is between Cristiano and me. The statement is clear. It is also in the statement that he remains an important part of the squad,” the United manager said.
“I am the manager, I am responsible for the top sport culture here and I have to set standards and values and I have to control them. We are a team and in the team we have values and standards and I have to control that.
“After Rayo Vallecano I told [him] it was unacceptable, but it wasn’t just him. The second time there has to be consequences. That is what has happened.
“We miss him tomorrow, that is a miss for us and the squad, but I think it is important for the attitude and mentality of the group and now we have to focus on Chelsea as that is the most important thing.”
'It was "heat of the moment"'
On Thursday, Ronaldo said “the heat of the moment” had got to him, though he stopped short of apologising for his actions. He has scored just one goal in eight Premier League appearances this season, and also showed his displeasure at being substituted in Sunday’s goalless home draw with Newcastle United.
United, unbeaten in five games in all competitions, go into Saturday’s game at Stamford Bridge just one point behind fifth-placed Chelsea and Ten Hag said his players would not be distracted by this week’s drama. “It’s part of playing in top football,” he said. “There are rumours and noise and you can’t get distracted, you have to remain on the job and get the result.”
Ronaldo’s unavailability is compounded by the continued absence of Anthony Martial, who Ten Hag confirmed will not be available to face Chelsea due to a back injury sustained in the win at Everton earlier this month.