Cristiano Ronaldo has gone too far. After he went into the dressing room before the final whistle, probably out of frustration at not being used again in the league game against Tottenham, his club took action. "Cristiano Ronaldo will not be in the Manchester United squad for next Saturday's Premier League game against Chelsea. The rest of the team is fully focused on preparing for this game," Manchester United said succinctly on its website on Thursday -Side. The 37-year-old multiple world footballer's reputation is waning.
Just before the final whistle, Ronaldo stomped into the Old Trafford dressing room, past the fans, looking down – and without consulting coach Erik ten Hag. A scandal. And a topic that has repeatedly caused unrest among the English record champions.
The reactions followed promptly, including numerous ex-professionals such as former England internationals Michael Owen and Gary Lineker. "It's not very professional," said Owen, who nevertheless showed understanding: He could understand Ronaldo's frustration, "it must be difficult for him". Lineker chose more drastic words: "I'm sorry, but that's unacceptable, that's so pathetic," said the TV expert about Ronaldo's escape.
Head coach ten Hag avoided the explosive topic after the game. "I'll deal with that tomorrow, not today. Now we're celebrating this win," said the 52-year-old on Wednesday evening. "I saw him, but I didn't speak to him."
The big question, however, is whether a debate will help. The coach and his player seem to have too different ideas about Ronaldo's role. The five-time Champions League winner was determined to leave the club in the summer. Because ten Hag relies on team players who should also run a lot in the game against the ball. Meanwhile, Ronaldo likes to take breaks to shine in attacks. But he is no longer the goal machine he once embodied at Juventus Turin (134 competitive games/101 goals) or Real Madrid (438/450). And ten Hag is not ready to submit his system to an aging (ex) exceptional player.
Ronaldo's record under ten Hag reads frighteningly. He was only allowed to play the full 90 minutes once this season – in the embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Brentford FC on the second matchday. After twelve matchdays he has only scored once and has not prepared a goal yet. The fact that the fans still want to high five with him is mainly thanks to Ronaldo's glorious past. Does he have a future in Manchester after his "escape"? This is probably more questionable than ever.