Erik ten Hag claimed that it was during Cristiano Ronaldo’s contentious television interview with Piers Morgan that he first learned the striker intended to quit Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s contract was mutually terminated last month after he claimed to feel “betrayed” by the team and to have “no respect” for Ten Hag.
The United manager has revealed that the Portuguese forward never told him he wanted to leave, breaking his silence on the matter.
“I wanted him to stay from the first moment until now,” Ten Hag told UK media in Cadiz, Spain, where United are preparing for the return of the Premier League. “He wanted to leave, it was quite clear. And when a player definitely doesn’t want to be in this club then he has to go.”
“The interview was the first time he said he wanted to leave. I think as a club you can’t accept that. There will be consequences. To make that step, [to do the interview] he knew the consequences. Before he [had] never told me.”
“During the season there was no transfer window, but until that moment he never told me ‘I want to leave’. In the summer we had one talk. He came in and said, ‘I will tell you in seven days if I want to stay’. Then he came back and said, ‘I want to stay’. Until that moment [the interview] I never heard anything.”
“We wanted him to be part of our project, [for] him to contribute to Manchester United, because he is a great player. He has such a great history, but it’s in the past and we have to look into the future.”
Ronaldo became dissatisfied with his limited playing time at United and refused to enter the game as a substitute against Tottenham in October. Ronaldo was dropped by Ten Hag for the incident and it was revealed that the 37-year-old was not in the proper physical condition to play.
“When he is in good shape, he is a good player,” said Ten Hag. “And he could help us to get back and achieve the objectives we have. That is quite clear. But he wasn’t.”
“I liked to work with world class players. I know they can make a difference and help you to achieve your objectives. That is why you want to have such players in your dressing room.”
“But what happened, happened. I have to make choices around players who are not performing and pick the best team.”
“My accountability is in favour of the club and the team. They are the decisions I have to make. It doesn’t matter who is the person, it is about how we perform now.”
What Did Ronaldo Say About Erik ten Hag?
Parts of a critical interview with soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, were made public just hours after Man United trounced Fulham on Sunday, November 13, 2022, in their final match before the 2022 World Cup break. Ronaldo was unable to play due to sickness.
Ronaldo claimed during an interview with Piers Morgan that he feels “betrayed” by United and that he doesn’t respect manager Erik ten Hag. Later that week, the whole interview was made public.
The narrative of United and one of their best players in club history has taken several turns, and this was only the most recent.
Ronaldo’s status as a United player for the 2022–23 season was still up in the air at that time.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner reportedly intended to leave Old Trafford to participate in the Champions League during the summer.
However, Ronaldo alleged that the individuals at the club were trying to push him out, including Ten Hag, who is in his first season at United after a brilliant period at Ajax.
“Not only the coach but the other two or three guys there around the club,” Ronaldo said when asked if United is trying to force him out.
When Morgan followed up about whether United was trying to get rid of Ronaldo, he replied: “Honestly I should not say that. I don’t know. I don’t care. People should always listen to the truth. Yes, I feel betrayed and I felt that some people don’t want me here. Not only this year but last year too.”
Ronaldo made his remarks just a few weeks after leaving the field before the final whistle of United’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham at Old Trafford after refusing to enter as a replacement.
Ronaldo was given a one-game suspension by Ten Hag for his antics, even though he had only started two of the 12 Premier League games up to that point.
“I don’t have respect for Erik ten Hag because he doesn’t show respect for me,” Ronaldo said. “If you don’t have respect for me, I will never have any for you.”
Overall, Ronaldo’s return to United has been a huge letdown. When the Red Devils rushed in late in the 2021 summer transfer window to get Ronaldo — and keep him from joining Manchester City — they had expectations of contending for the Premier League title.