Erik ten Hag benched Cristiano Ronaldo in his first Premier League match of the 2022/2023 season that saw Brighton and Hoves win 2:1 away at Old Trafford on Sunday.
After being pulled out of the starting lineup in Erik ten Hag’s first competitive game as manager, Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to lead a comeback for Manchester United.
After Pascal Gross had given the Seagulls a 2-0 lead in the first half, Ronaldo, a wanted man, was replaced Fred eight minutes into the second half.
United had optimism after Alexis Mac Allister’s own goal, but Ronaldo and his teammates were unable to get an equalizer.
Instead of Ronaldo, Christian Eriksen started the game upfront; however, after the Portuguese forward was introduced into the game, Eriksen moved back into a midfield position.
The Portuguese attacker has publicly expressed his desire to leave the team this summer to play in the Champions League after United’s disappointing season saw them demoted to Europa League football.
Erik ten Hag, the new manager, has struggled in his first summer because of the lingering story of whether Ronaldo would stay or leave.
Erik ten Hag feels that Cristiano Ronaldo improved Manchester United’s appearance when he entered the game against Brighton, even though the forward was unable to lead his team to earn a point.
Despite several run-ins throughout the summer, there was a lot of pregame discussion about whether Ronaldo would be in Ten Hag’s starting Premier League XI.
According to reports, the 37-year-old wants to quit the team to play in the Champions League and was absent for the majority of the preseason due to a family matter.
Ronaldo played 40 minutes against Rayo Vallecano in a friendly last weekend, but Ten Hag felt it “unacceptable” that he left the game early.
Ronaldo eventually started the game from the bench, coming in in the 53rd minute with Manchester United trailing Brighton 2-0 as a result of a double from Pascal Gross.
Ten Hag claimed Man United looked better with Ronaldo on the pitch as Christian Eriksen sank deeper despite losing the game (a scrappy Alexis Mac Allister’s own goal saw Man United cut the lead to 2-1).
While Ronaldo may have helped Man Utd in certain ways, Ten Hag had much to worry about as he dropped his first Premier League game.
He explained: “It is definitely a setback, a real disappointment, but we have to deal with it. I knew from the start that it wouldn’t be easy, it’s a process and takes time, but we don’t have time. We have to win games and we should have done better.
“It was unnecessary. We gave too many easy balls away and the organisation was a big mistake. It was not the way we made it out, we made it clear how to deal with certain situations when we drop in. But that happens, we have to analyse and take the lessons from it.”