Manchester United: Cristiano Ronaldo should not be singled out for early exit, says Erik ten Hag

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag with forward Cristiano Ronaldo

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Erik ten Hag has said that the spotlight should not solely be on Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano early as several other players did the same.

Ronaldo was pictured leaving Old Trafford before the end of Sunday’s 1-1 draw after being substituted at half time. Diogo Dalot was also pictured leaving early but had not played, having appeared in the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid a day earlier.

Ronaldo’s early exit was the latest flashpoint in a summer which has seen the 37-year-old inform United that he wishes to leave the club, only to struggle for potential suitors.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner did not initially report back for training and did not travel on United’s pre-season tour due to a family issue, an explanation that the club accepted.

Ten Hag described players leaving the Rayo game early as “unacceptable” earlier this week but insisted on Friday that the media should not single out Ronaldo for criticism.

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“Now I have to point, those who left, they were many players who left but the spotlight is on Cristiano. That is not right, so do your research and make out many players left, that was what was said.

“I don’t understand what is the relation [to Cristiano alone], he was part of it. There were a lot of players. I’m really happy, I told you before, we have a top striker, really happy he’s here with the squad and we stick to the plan.”

Ronaldo was not expected to start United’s opening game of the Premier League season against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday due to his lack of minutes in pre-season but Ten Hag now faces a selection headache up front.

Anthony Martial is set to miss Sunday’s opener with a hamstring injury, leaving Ronaldo as the only senior, recognised centre-forward available.

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