On Wednesday night at Old Trafford, Erik ten Hag took a bold step to overlook Cristiano Ronaldo for the starting XI against Liverpool. Ten Hag was vindicated, but the omission of Ronaldo remained a major talking point.
Ahead of the clash, the Portuguese striker bumped into the SKY Sports coverage for the game and greeted his former teammate Roy Keane and Gary Neville. Keane even asked him the reason for his omission, to which Ronaldo replied, “What do you want me to do?”.
In between Neville and Keane stood former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, whose handshake plea was brutally ignored by the Man Utd striker.
“Bad night from start to finish! blanked by my good mate Ronaldo, Man Utd showing fight & quality & Liverpool all over the place!!” tweeted Carragher after the match.
Carragher has publicly questioned the utility of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and has also said that the team will be better off without him. Rio Ferdinand, ex-colleague of Ronaldo, said that the striker is fussy very fussy about his public perception, and he might not have liked Carragher’s recent comments.
‘Knowing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jamie Carragher’s been very vocal about Cristiano Ronaldo being the problem and stuff like that,” said Ferdinand. “Cristiano is very calculated, he’s very aware of what’s going on, he’s not somebody who sits at home and switches off.”
As far as the game is concerned, Manchester United thumped Liverpool 2-1 to register their first victory of the season. The decision to play Anthony Elanga over Ronaldo worked in their favour, as the former proved to be a more threatening and direct presence in the game. Elanga made great use of his unfettered pace and guile and laid bare the defensive vulnerabilities of Trent Alexander Arnold.
Going ahead, the sight of Ronaldo warming the bench may become a regularity. But ten Haag ensured that he is working hard to integrate him into the system.
“We plan with him and that has reasons, he scores goals. We are happy with him, we have to fit him in the system and the way we’re playing. That is what he’s trying and we’re trying,” said ten Haag.
Lead Image: Cristiano Ronaldo/Twitter