Cristiano Ronaldo concedes he regrets leaving Old Trafford early during Manchester United’s pre-season game against Rayo Vallecano – but says Erik ten Hag ‘provoked’ him into storming down the tunnel against Tottenham.
United turned in their best display of the campaign to seal a 2-0 victory over Antonio Conte’s side in October but the performance was overshadowed by Ronaldo leaving the dugout and heading towards the dressing room before full-time.
It was later revealed that Ronaldo had refused to come on as a late substitute, a decision that saw him exiled from the team for the following league game against Chelsea.
It followed the incident in United’s final game of pre-season where he left before full-time against Rayo Vallecano in July, after playing the first 45 minutes.
Following his brief suspension after the Tottenham game, Ronaldo returned to the starting lineup the following week against FC Sheriff in the Europa League and captained the team against West Ham United three days later.
While he holds some regret over the pre-season incident, the 37-year-old aimed another swipe at ten Hag by saying he is ‘not the kind of player’ who should be coming off the bench in the final minutes of a game that is won.
‘Piers I will be honest with you, it’s something that I regret to left from the stadium,’ Ronaldo told Piers Morgan Uncensored: 90 Minutes with Ronaldo.
‘Probably, or maybe no, I don’t know. It’s difficult to tell you 100% but let’s say I regret, but in the same way I felt provoked by the coach. Not allowed for me, a coach to put me in three minutes in a game. Sorry, I’m not that kind of player. I know what I can give to the teams.’
Ronaldo was not the only United star to leave the Rayo Vallecano game early with Diogo Dalot also pictured leaving Old Trafford. ‘We are a team, we are a squad. You have to stay until the end,’ ten Hag later said of the incident.
Ronaldo has now revealed that there were eight players who left early, saying he was the only one to receive criticism because he is ‘the black sheep’.
Ronaldo added: ‘Me and eight players, but they mentioned only my name…everyone do that.
‘Last year, many players did the same. In that game eight players do the same but they only speak about the black sheep which is me, which is, I completely understand, okay, it’s done, I apologise to the coach and for me, the chapter was closed.’