Erik ten Hag takes aim at Cristiano Ronaldo in culture change speech

Erik ten Hag ready for ‘next step’ with Man Utd by beating top four rival Liverpool at Anfield

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has admitted he didn’t ‘lose sleep’ over his decision to terminate Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract. The Dutchman insists he ‘had his reasons’ for offloading the 38-year-old midway through the season while understanding the potential consequences.

Ronaldo slammed Ten Hag in an explosive interview with Piers Morgan in November, which the club didn’t sanction, claiming he didn’t respect him after losing his place as a certain starter.

He was released not long after in one of several signs of Ten Hag stamping his authority on the disgruntled squad he inherited last summer.

It was the ultimate power move by the United boss, who risked spending most of his first season at Old Trafford without a natural striker before Wout Weghorst’s loan in January.

Three months and one trophy later, Ten Hag defended his decision because he knew it was the right one to progress his project in M16.

Ten Hag said: “I had my reasons. They were obvious, and I also knew the consequences. It could have had a negative outcome. That is always possible in football.

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“But I am not worrying. I sleep well also, even during those nights. I have to take decisions in respect of advancing the club and the team.

“That is my job, and that is the responsibility I have – and I have to stand by those decisions.

“I have to face the consequences and the impact of my decisions, not only in the short term but also in the longer term.

“Of course, you don’t always have a lot of time. In that period, I remember we had 10 days so I could consider which choice would be the best.

“You always have to think strategically. But that is my job, and that is the responsibility I have to take.”


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United have gone from strength to strength since Ronaldo’s £173million-a-year move to Saudi Arabia and are still challenging on all fronts after ending their six-year trophy drought.

Ten Hag added that he knew the problem that plagued a disastrous 2021/22 season before arriving, explaining his strict focus on discipline to garner improvement from Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and others.

“There was [a lack of discipline] – and I don’t have to lie about it. Top players like structure – and not only on the pitch – so you need some rules,” Ten Hag continued.

“I think it’s obvious in every organisation that when there are no rules and no discipline in taking those rules seriously, then you create a mess.

“It was quite obvious what was needed because I could see on the pitch what was going on.”

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