Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has sent Cristiano Ronaldo a clear warning after his reaction to being substituted against Newcastle United on Sunday. Ten Hag dragged Ronaldo off during the 0-0 stalemate, proving once again he’s not afraid to take action if the five-time Ballon d’Or winner isn’t playing well.
Ronaldo was handed his first Premier League start at Old Trafford of the season but failed to inspire United to another three points against Newcastle. He endured a frustrating afternoon, having one goal chalked out for offside before being denied by VAR again in a bizarre incident from a Newcastle free-kick.
Ten Hag decided to roll the dice in the 72nd minute, replacing Ronaldo with Marcus Rashford, who wasn’t fit to start due to illness. And the 37-year-old didn’t react well to the substitution, United’s only change of the match, walking off the pitch slowly while shaking his head.
Speaking ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s visit on Wednesday, Ten Hag accepted it was natural to be frustrated by coming off early. However, he warned Ronaldo that he must produce more of a goal threat to avoid being withdrawn. He told reporters: “I think no player is happy to come off, especially not Ronaldo. As long as it’s normal, I have no problem with that. He has to convince me he can score a goal.”
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Plenty questioned Ten Hag’s authority when he arrived as United boss after a season of disharmony on the pitch and toxic dressing room politics off it. But the Dutchman wasted no time nailing down who was in charge and has already made a selection of bold decisions in the early stages of his tenure.
Ronaldo was somewhat of an untouchable starter last term, scoring goals but raising concerns over whether his self-serving style would bode well in Ten Hag’s vision. And after he missed most of pre-season amid his desire to leave the club, Ten Hag has primarily used him as a rotational player in favour of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
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