Man United news: Erik ten Hag does not know if Cristiano Ronaldo will take on Brighton

Fire Cristiano! Erik ten Hag says it’s unfair for Ronaldo to be in the spotlight for leaving Man United’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano early… but the Dutch boss admits he’s not sure if the attacker will play against Brighton this weekend

  • Several players left Old Trafford early in Manchester United’s friendly match
  • Erik ten Hag said it was ‘unacceptable’, which was seen as a swipe at Ronaldo
  • But the Dutchman says that the attacker should not be picked on for criticism
  • Ronaldo could play against Brighton on Sunday if Anthony Martial is out

Erik ten Hag jumped into the defense of Cristiano Ronaldo on the eve of the new season while the soap around the star player of Manchester United continued.

After lashing out at Ronaldo by telling Dutch television it was “unacceptable” that the player left United’s last preseason game against Rayo Vallecano before the end, Ten Hag did his utmost to clear up the controversy.

The United boss said it was unfair for Ronaldo to take all the blame as a number of United players – including his Portuguese team-mate Diogo Dalot – also shot out of Old Trafford early on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives on the training ground of Manchester United on Friday morning

The attacker appeared to leave the friendly with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford early

The attacker appeared to leave the friendly with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford early

“Now I have to point out, those who left… there were a lot of players who left, but the spotlight is on Cristiano, and that’s not right,” said Ten Hag.

“So do your research and find out that there are still a lot of players left. That is not correct or acceptable. I don’t understand what the relationship is. He was part of it. There were many players.’

When asked whether he has spoken to Ronaldo and the other players, Ten Hag replied: “You say it, you correct them and then move on. We’ve said enough about it. I said it’s not right.’

Ten Hag can only hope that his team comes to the fore on Sunday just as quickly as United host Brighton, after a challenging first summer in the lead.

Ten Hag praised the pre-season work of his players in his press conference on Friday afternoon

It was dominated by Ronaldo’s story after he asked to leave the club and then missed most of the preparation due to an unspecified family issue.

So it’s no surprise that United’s number 7 dominates the run-up to the game, as his agent Jorge Mendes still has 26 days to clear a transfer.

However, Ten Hag claimed he is making plans for the new season with Ronaldo, 37, in his roster and wants last season’s top scorer to remain with 24 goals.

“I’m really happy,” he said. “We have a top striker and I’m glad he’s here. I am satisfied with the whole team. We work well and Cristiano works hard.’

Erik ten Hag: Ronaldo shouldn't be in the spotlight alone because he's leaving for full-time

Erik ten Hag: Ronaldo shouldn’t be in the spotlight alone because he’s leaving for full-time

For now, the most pressing issue surrounding Ronaldo is whether he will start against Brighton, having played just 45 minutes of football this summer.

Anthony Martial will miss the game with a hamstring injury after leading the attack in pre-season, leaving Ten Hag a big call-up to make his first Premier League team squad.

Will he put Ronaldo in the starting line-up or will he stick with the players who have worked hard at Carrington and on tour to find an alternative replacement for Martial?

“We’ll see on Sunday,” said Ten Hag. “I think we have solutions to solve it.”

Anthony Martial will not be available to face the Seagulls due to a minor hamstring problem

Anthony Martial will not be available to face the Seagulls due to a minor hamstring problem

Nevertheless, the Dutchman would undoubtedly like to have a few solutions at his disposal. He has made no secret of his desire for another striker, and the summer-long pursuit of FC Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong shows no signs of slowing down.

Ten Hag sticks to his mantra of wanting the right players through the door – otherwise he’s happy with what United already have.

“You don’t need a player, you need the right player,” he said. “If it’s not the right player, no, then I’m happy with the current squad.

‘We want Frankie? I don’t know. It’s about the right players and I can’t say anything about a player who is under contract with another club.’

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