Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been criticized for his handling of Cristiano Ronaldo’s bitter exit from Old Trafford by Roy Keane.
Ronaldo has left Manchester United by mutual consent following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
United released a 67-word statement on Tuesday night announcing they had reached a mutual agreement with the 37-year-old forward to terminate his contract.
In the interview on TalkTV – was sent in two parts on Wednesday and Thursday last week – Ronaldo said he felt “betrayed” by the club and has “no respect” for manager Erik ten Hag.
Speaking to ITV ahead of Germany’s World Cup match against Japan, Sky Sports pundit Keane believes Ten Hag could have handled the situation better.
“I don’t think it’s been good management,” Keane said. “I think it’s been a very difficult situation, but I don’t think the manger will come out with it [looking well].
“People can say he has laid down a marker, part of the management is looking after the top. You have to treat top world-class players differently. This idea that you treat everyone the same, you don’t.
“I think it’s better for everyone. The club, obviously. You don’t want it to drag on into the second half of the season. Ronaldo has obviously run out of patience. People say ‘is his reputation tarnished at Manchester United?’ Far from it. “
Despite leaving United with immediate effect, Ronaldo has been banned for two games and fined £50,000 for knocking a mobile phone out of a fan’s hand at Everton.
The 37-year-old had the altercation following a 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park on April 9, for which he was cautioned by Merseyside Police.
The FA also accused him of misconduct and an independent panel handed down a suspension and a hefty fine.
“I think it’s been on the cards for the last few months,” former United midfielder Keane added of Ronaldo’s departure.
“Obviously the interview was the tipping point for him, but that’s it, life goes on.
“Manchester United is a big club, Ronaldo is a big player. It’s like a divorce in a relationship, we all know how that feels and you go your separate ways.
“He probably should have gone in the summer, but whether it’s the player’s fault or the club’s fault, it was never going to happen. The new manager was never going to play him, you can’t have Ronaldo as a kit or fringe player. It’s just not right . It’s sad, but these things happen.”
Ronaldo’s key quotes – a snapshot of his entire interview
- ‘I feel betrayed by Man Utd | I have no respect for Erik ten Hag’
- “Man Utd doubted me over my sick daughter when I missed pre-season”
- “The Glazer family don’t care about Man Utd | United have stopped on a clock’
- “Man City move was close but Sir Alex Ferguson changed everything”
- “Young people don’t care, but Diogo Dalot and Lisandro Martinez are different”
- “Roy Keane is the best captain I ever had, but Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney are not my friends”
- “I have never seen Ralf Rangnick as the boss | Ole Gunnar Solskjær did a good job.
- “I regret leaving Old Trafford vs Tottenham – I felt provoked”
- ‘I rejected €350m Saudi move | I don’t know if I still want to be in Man Utd after the World Cup.
- “I would be happy if Arsenal win the Premier League”
- ‘Lionel Messi is magic | I want to play until I’m 40’
Fernandes: Ronaldo’s exit will not derail Portugal
Bruno Fernandes insists Portugal are “100 per cent focused” on the World Cup despite the distraction of Ronaldo’s departure.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Thursday’s game against Ghana, Fernandes said: “We are all focused 100 per cent on the national team and the World Cup. We are all aware of what we have to do.
“We are in a championship that is the dream of every player and a competition where every player wants to play.”
Asked if he would feel uncomfortable with his former Manchester United team-mate, Fernandes added: “I don’t feel uncomfortable, I don’t have to choose a side.
“Cristiano has always been an inspiration to me, so it was a dream come true to be able to play with him, but we know that nothing lasts forever.
“It was good while it lasted. We have to respect his decision, whether we agree or not.”
Where should Ronaldo start?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:
“Which top club would start Ronaldo every game? At which club would he be guaranteed a place in the first XI? We saw this summer that the only offer that came in for him was from Saudi Arabia – United were prepared to accept it and he didn’t want to go.
“As a free agent if he puts in a really solid performance in the World Cup, people will forget his disruptive behavior and he could get a move, but I can’t see where and to whom.
“Maybe the solution is for Ronaldo to accept that he’s one of the best players we’ve ever seen – but he’s 37, and progressive clubs – clubs that have ambitions to win the Champions League are not going to run everything through him. He can don’t be the main man.”
Ronaldo on damaged relationship with Ten Hag – and statistics that support the manager
“I understand that in a new job [you try to make an impression.] “Manchester were so bad in the last five years that they should clean house, let’s put it that way,” Ronaldo said.
“But the way they approach, the way the press makes this so big. I really understand at the beginning because I didn’t do pre-season, I don’t start playing but go more than that.
“Other things happen that people don’t know. And I don’t hide that the empathy with the coach is not good. I’m honest.”
One of Ronaldo’s standout quotes about Ten Hag from his interview was: “I don’t respect him because he doesn’t respect me.”
It was a major change of attitude after he gave an interview to United in June and said he was happy at the club and urged Ten Hag to have time at Old Trafford following his arrival from Ajax.
Was Ronaldo’s recent shot at the Ten Hag just a reference to his lack of Premier League starts this season?
It’s not clear because this is, after all, a player who was handed the captain’s armband shortly after coming off the team’s win over Tottenham before full-time. When United were beaten by Manchester City, Ten Hag said he did not bring Ronaldo on “out of respect for his great career”.
United felt they were bending over backwards to accommodate Ronaldo and Ten Hag always insisted he was an important part of his plans.
What United did not do was indulge Ronaldo and guarantee him a starting place. He was their top scorer last season, but with Ten Hag now in charge, the statistics supported the Dutchman’s use of Ronaldo.
When Ronaldo did not start in the Premier League this season, United’s win rate tripled, points return doubled, scoring rate quadrupled and the team ran an average of 4km more per game.
An abrupt end after an adventurous start
Ronaldo’s departure signals an abrupt end to a United career that was revived to much fanfare last August.
He looked set to join rivals Manchester City from Juventus, but a late intervention from United took him back to Old Trafford.
Ronaldo first joined United from Sporting Lisbon as a teenager in 2003. He won three Premier League titles and the Champions League before going on to even greater success with Real Madrid.
After nine years at the Bernabeu and a further three at Juve, he returned to United as a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
He scored 18 goals in the Premier League last season but United struggled to finish sixth in a campaign managed by Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Michael Carrick and Ralf Rangnick.
He made a slow start to the current campaign under new boss Ten Hag after missing out on their pre-season tour, starting just four Premier League games. There was more controversy when he left the pitch early during a friendly and refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham.
Ronaldo leaves United for what is definitely the last time after scoring a total of 145 goals in 346 games.