Erik ten Hag has hit back at Cristiano Ronaldo, claiming he was unaware of the player’s wish to leave the club until that explosive interview.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Erik ten Hag has launched a scathing attack on former Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo after the player accused the manager of being disrespectful.

The 37-year-old saw his contract getting mutually terminated as he became a free agent in the midst of the World Cup. The former Real Madrid forward had one more chance to lead his country to their first World Cup crown. But Morocco handed them a defeat in the quarterfinal clash on Saturday.

Over at Manchester United, there had been a string of incidents that started with the Tottenham Hotspur match when Ronaldo left without informing ten Hag and also refused to come on as a substitute.

The club took a strong cognizance of the matter and dropped him for the subsequent Chelsea match. The Red Devils have managed to find a way without Ronaldo, but ten Hag insisted he was not told about the player’s intention before his explosive interview.

“I wanted him to stay from the first moment until now. He wanted to leave, it was quite clear. And when a player definitely doesn’t want to be in this club then he has to go. The interview was the first time he said he wanted to leave. I think as a club you can’t accept that. There will be consequences. To make that step, [to do the interview] he knew the consequences. Before he [had] never told me.”

“During the season there was no transfer window, but until that moment he never told me ‘I want to leave’. In the summer we had one talk. He came in and said, ‘I will tell you in seven days if I want to stay’. Then he came back and said, ‘I want to stay’. Until that moment [the interview] I never heard anything.”

“We wanted him to be part of our project, [for] him to contribute to Manchester United, because he is a great player. He has such a great history, but it’s in the past and we have to look into the future.”

The Manchester manager also responded to the allegation that he did not use Ronaldo enough after taking charge of the club. “When he is in good shape, he is a good player. And he could help us to get back and achieve the objectives we have. That is quite clear. But he wasn’t. I liked to work with world-class players.”

“I know they can make a difference and help you to achieve your objectives. That is why you want to have such players in your dressing room. But what happened, happened. I have to make choices around players who are not performing and pick the best team. My accountability is in favour of the club and the team. They are the decisions I have to make. It doesn’t matter who is the person, it is about how we perform now.”

The club decided to back the manager on this matter, and this incident would go on to show ten Hag’s growing influence at Manchester United. As the club did not pay the Portuguese attacker any compensation, they could use that money to bring in new players.

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