Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has had problems trying to fit Cristiano Ronaldo into his team since his summer appointment and has been accused by Paddy Kenny of disrespecting the Portugal star and five other Manchester United players after Sunday’s 6-3 defeat to Manchester City.
The Red Devils were out-classed, out-manouvered and out-played by their fierce rivals in every department at the Etihad Stadium in their Premier League derby clash, with Phil Foden and Erling Haaland both standing tall, notching blistering hat-tricks for the hosts, while Antony and Anthony Martial netted consolations for the frazzled visitors.
United – down 4-0 by half-time – were severely chastened on an afternoon that clearly showed the vast chasm between the two Manchester rivals. Despite Antony and Martial’s efforts pegging back their rivals in the closing stages, what had started off as a hopeful, pleasant afternoon had evolved into a grim nightmare for Ten Hag and his side.
The Red Devils mustered up every resource to pursue the game by bringing on Martial, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Casemiro, with Ronaldo being the clear omission on the bench for the entirety of the game. Later, when queried with Ten Hag saying that decision was due to ‘respect’ for the 37-year-old’s ‘great career’.
Now, Kenny has taken Ten Hag to task for those comments, accusing him of ‘disrespecting’ the Portugal international and other players he’s brought on in the latter stages of the second half.
“To come out and say he did not bring him off the bench as a sign of respect… What a load of rubbish that is,” he told Football Insider.
“What does that say about the other players that you do bring on? Are you not bothered about them?
“What a comment that was. I could not believe it when I heard it.
“By that logic, you are disrespecting the other players you brought on when it was 4-0. What a thing to come out of his mouth. Embarrassing.”
Ronaldo had served notice of his intention to leave United back in the summer transfer window.
Having scored 24 goals across all competitions last term, he felt it was time to move on to a team who could offer him Champions League football and, sure enough, links to Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Napoli and Atletico Madrid all quickly arose, with the quartet seemingly able to offer him the appropriate grand stage to advance his Champions League football ambitions.
Unfortunately in the end, none of the moves materialised and the Portugal ace was completely stumped.
United had all the while insisted Ronaldo wouldn’t be allowed to leave, with the Red Devils determined to keep hold of their most-prolific goalscorer, yet oddly in the short time since then, their ardor seems to have abated somewhat as demand for the 37-year-old’s contributions on the pitch have been almost negligible.
Having started just once in the Premier League, Ronaldo was clearly laboring in the 4-0 defeat to Brentford at the end of August. Oddly too, he’s instead been restricted to starts in the Europa League, where he’s been deployed in matches with Real Sociedad and Sheriff.
The imminent signs are currently pointing to the Portuguese center forward still trying to secure a move away from the club when the transfer window reopens in January. And this time Ten Hag is reportedly willing to let the veteran go, especially now that he’s got Martial and Marcus Rashford as options up top.
Kenny isn’t the only one thinking United have treated Ronaldo and Casemiro poorly this season as former United defensive legend Rio Ferdinand is also in agreement.
Speaking after the defeat to City, the former Red Devils star said: “I think we will [see Ronaldo and Casemiro play], but I think it’s the context of what games they’re playing in – they could be playing midweek Europa game. That won’t sit well with them.
“They’d be sitting there going, ‘wow, I’m like the Rumbelows Cup player right now, the Carabao Cup player’.
“These are the sub-plots to what Ten Hag has to deal with. This is what management is about, he’s got to manage that type of player, that type of ego, the pride that comes with these types of players.
“If you’re not playing, you’ll see a difference in the way they look at you now, and that’s what you’ve got to manage.
“He didn’t have those problems at Ajax with the players he had, he was very much in control, the master of the universe there.
“Here you’ve got big egos to deal with and this is the task when you come to a top club.”