Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag has contended that he respected Cristiano Ronaldo’s big career by not bringing him on in the Manchester Derby on Sunday, 2nd October 2022 which ended in a 6-3 humiliation of the Red Devils.
It was a rout a the Etihad as the Red side of Manchester suffered a humiliating defeat in the Premier League in the hands of a brilliant and perfect Pep Guardiola-led team.
Although bookmakers had tipped Pep Guardiola’s men to outclass a Manchester United side undergoing rebuilt, the score line was the least expected.
Twice this season, Manchester United have conceded four goals in the first half and have gone ahead to suffer a humiliating defeat.
Despite the situation at Old Trafford, Erik Ten Hag’s rebound after Brentford’s game was enigmatic and equally puzzling – four straight wins in a row, including victories over in-form Arsenal and Liverpool.
Nevertheless, the Red Devils met their waterloo again in a dramatic Manchester Derby that witnessed the most goals ever – 9 goals.
Erling Haaland and Phil Foden were the heroes of the day – each scored a hat-trick, with Erling Haaland netting three consecutive hat-tricks in three straight home games for Manchester City.
Ronaldo benched throughout the match
Another sharp development that turned on debates in the Manchester derby was Erik Ten Hag’s decision on Cristiano Ronaldo.
For the first time this season, Cristiano Ronaldo was an unused substitute in such a high-profile match.
When asked Why he refused to use the Portuguese in the game, Erik Ten Hag gave a somewhat controversial response.
He “didn’t bring him on out of respect for his big career.”
Erik Ten Hag made all substitutions to nudge the game a bit without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was obviously disappointed as Haaland and Foden kept ripping apart the United defense and piling up the scoreline.
Erik Ten Hag also added that he had another option instead of Ronaldo. According to him, he had to bring on Anthony Martial instead because he needs the minute.
His decision has caused an uproar, with Manchester United legend Roy Keane admitting that it was not a good decision to keep the 37-year-old on the bench throughout the match.
According to the Man United legend, Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player and world-class striker in his own right; keeping him on the bench in such a high profile match was a disrespect not a respect.
Roy Keane said: “The manager held on to him. Ok, he said he wanted options. But you don’t hold on to Ronaldo to sit on the bench. He is one of the greatest players ever. He had options [to move in the summer]. This idea he didn’t have options is rubbish. He had four or five good options.
“United have shown nothing but disrespect to Ronaldo”.
Although Ten Hag contends that he respected the five times Ballon d’Or winner by keeping him on the bench in the Manchester Derby, it is evident that Ten Hag will not be using Ronaldo as the season progresses.
The situation may get uglier in the coming days. Ten Hag’s decision may not be considered as a sign of respect for the beleaguered Portuguese star, whose career has witnessed an incredible slump under his watch.
The only option remaining for Ronaldo is to explore avenues to leave Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United because he has no place in the team, as things stand.