Manchester United‘s hierarchy are reportedly backing the decision from head coach Erik ten Hag to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from the squad for Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Chelsea.
After being handed a rare start in the goalless draw with Newcastle United last weekend, the 37-year-old returned to the substitutes’ bench and watched on as United secured a 2-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
In the closing stages of the contest, Ronaldo decided to walk alone down the tunnel and the forward is alleged to have left the stadium before the full-time whistle had blown.
Ten Hag stated that he would ‘deal with the incident’ after the match, and the Dutchman is understood to have held talks with Ronaldo on Thursday morning at the club’s Carrington training ground.
Man United have since confirmed that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will not be involved in Saturday’s clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
A brief statement on their official website read: “Cristiano Ronaldo will not be part of the Manchester United squad for this Saturday’s Premier League game against Chelsea. The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for that fixture.
According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, United’s board are fully backing Ten Hag’s stance and his decision to drop Ronaldo from the first-team squad.
Meanwhile, The Express claims that the relationship between Ten Hag and Ronaldo has ‘deteriorated behind the scenes’ in recent weeks.
Wednesday’s incident is the second time that Ronaldo had decided to leave a United match early, after doing so before the full-time whistle had blown in the 1-1 friendly draw with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford in July.
Ronaldo has since taken to social media to release a statement following his axe from the first-team squad and has admitted that “the heat of the moment gets the best of us.”
A statement posted from the forward on Instagram read: “As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches. That hasn’t changed. I haven’t changed.
I’m the same person and the same professional that I’ve been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision making process.
“I started very young, the older and most experienced players examples were always very important to me. Therefore, later on, I’ve always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I’ve represented. Unfortunately that’s not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us.
“Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates and be ready for everything in any given game. Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United, and united we must stand. Soon we’ll be together again.”
Ronaldo, who has scored just twice in six starts for United this season, faces an uncertain future at Old Trafford, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
In the Portuguese forward’s absence, Marcus Rashford is expected to continue up front for the Red Devils for this weekend’s encounter against Chelsea.