After Manchester United’s injury-plagued 2-1 win at Fulham on Sunday, Erik ten Hag was given a chance to reflect on the events at Old Trafford since taking over as manager in the summer.
“We are united now,” he said. “We have unity in the dressing room, with the staff, the directors, the whole club and the fans.
“I think we have a base. We’re going in the right direction. I think the culture has changed; the attitude, the mentality has changed, and that’s good. Today, I think, is a symbol of that, when you get it. win in the last seconds of the game.”
Around the same time, United employees were told that “jointness” was not all-encompassing.
They didn’t know then and still don’t know the extent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s attack on them. Unless things change, they will have to wait with everyone else to watch Piers Morgan’s £500,000-a-week interview on TV.
Excerpts from the interview, published on Sunday, Ronaldo said he felt “betrayed” by the club, the manager disrespects Ten Haag and is forced out. The interview will be broadcast on Talk TV both nights, Wednesday and Thursday.
In a sense, there is no solution for Manchester United.
After Ronaldo refused to come on as a late substitute in the win over Tottenham on 19 October, United made it clear that they backed Ten Hag to try and deal with the situation. He immediately suspended the 37-year-old for next weekend’s game at Chelsea.
And it became known that Ronaldo accepted that his behavior was wrong. However, he strongly believes that Ten Haag’s decision is disrespectful to the community.
Speaking to Talksport radio on Monday, Morgan said the move contradicts Ten Hag’s explanation for failing to bring Ronaldo in the 6-3 Manchester derby defeat at the Etihad Stadium two-and-a-half weeks ago. circumstances, would be disrespectful.
There was a big difference in the two games. United lost 4-0 in the first half. After 80 minutes, the score was 6:1. There was nothing at stake except to limit the extent of the dreaded defeat. Against Tottenham, they defended their two-goal lead against their top-four rivals after collecting four points from three games in the final 10 minutes. Christian Eriksen was introduced with three minutes to go that night, as was young Anthony Elanga.
Former United captain Gary Neville was not alone in not thinking Ronaldo had crossed the line that night and it would have been better for all parties if his former team-mate had been released immediately.
Ten Haag had a different view.
However, explaining his position in an extended press conference two days after the Tottenham game, he said something that got to the heart of the matter.
“I have to make a decision especially in the interest of the club and the team, that’s my job,” he said. – Who is, age, reputation is not important.
In other words, it doesn’t matter that Ronaldo has won every honor in the game multiple times, won the Ballon d’Or five times and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in history. In Ten Haag’s eyes, he is just another player. And the harsh truth is that he hasn’t delivered in terms of goals scored or overall contribution this season.
Apart from saying they need to establish the full facts behind Ronaldo’s unauthorized interview, United are keeping their powder dry.
They took issue with some of Ronaldo’s specific allegations about his behind-the-scenes life at the club, pointing out that the kitchen staff had changed, the gym was being renovated and the training ground was different. The Portuguese left in 2009.
There are also complaints that Ronaldo’s “management” are letting him go on compassionate leave, with senior club officials allowing him to miss a summer tour to Thailand and Australia.
There have long been rumors that Ronaldo, considered by many to be a professional, has not been the mentor to young players as expected.
There is no doubt that Ronaldo wants to leave in the summer. United sources are adamant that no deal has been made, other than Saudi Arabia’s offer, which would not pay a significant portion of his salary.
Against this backdrop, United must decide what to do next.
It’s impossible to imagine Ronaldo playing under Ten Hag and it’s impossible for United’s hierarchy to undermine their manager by backing the player.
Ten Hag must speak to director of football John Murtaugh before chief executive Richard Arnold and co-chairman Joel Glazer get involved.
If precedent is any guide, the end result will require patience.
It happened 17 years ago. In October 2005, United won 4-1 in a Premier League game at Middlesbrough. Shortly after that match, captain Roy Keane gave an interview to MUTV in which he disparaged his teammates so much that it never aired. Eighteen days after giving that interview, Keane left United by “mutual consent”.
In the age of social media, 18 days feels like a lifetime.
However, no matter how long it takes, it looks like Ronaldo will finally get his wish and be allowed to leave. How should all this be resolved.
“I can’t defend Ronaldo” is the reaction
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand says he cannot defend Ronaldo.
“All this was done for one thing – to get him out of the club,” he said in his speech. Vibe with the Five podcast.
“Before this interview I would have defended her, but the love affair with Cristiano is over in my eyes.
“I don’t think there’s a way back. I don’t think the club will take him back and I don’t think he wants to come back. That’s why it’s all done.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club, former Blackburn and Chelsea striker Chris Sutton said Ronaldo was “reducing and taking his toys out of the pram”.
Sutton said: “Ronaldo can’t play for The Hague again. He can’t play for Manchester United again. It could be very good for The Hague. This interview was completely unnecessary, it damaged his legacy.
“His advisers must have known the impact this interview would have.”
Former Brighton striker Glenn Murray added: “Manchester United knew when they brought him in that he had a big ego for his quality. That was always going to be the case. They never took his death very well.
“Obviously everyone wants him to leave the club. That’s what he wanted when he gave the interview. It was very self-deprecating. There’s no going back for him now.”
Andy Mitten, editor of United We Stand magazine, previously told BBC Radio 5 Live: “He wasn’t forced. He wanted to leave in the summer and thought he would, but there weren’t enough candidates.
“He gave an interview that was his version of the truth, and in life there is more than one version of the truth.
“I don’t think United fans will be too worried if he doesn’t play for the club again.”