Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Manchester United first-team training ahead of Europa League tie with Sheriff – Sky Sports

  • October 26, 2022


Cristiano Ronaldo is now back in training with the Manchester United first team; Portugal forward walked down the tunnel before full-time vs Spurs last week; he issued a statement on Thursday, saying: ‘sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us’
Tuesday 25 October 2022 15:33, UK
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Cristiano Ronaldo returned to training with Manchester United’s first team at Carrington on Tuesday.
Ronaldo was dropped for United’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Saturday Night Football as punishment for refusing to go on as a late substitute and for leaving early in last week’s win over Tottenham.
However, manager Erik ten Hag and the Portugal forward have since been in constant dialogue and there were no ‘showdown talks’ at Carrington on Tuesday.
Ten Hag’s focus is on preparing the squad for Thursday’s Europa League group-stage clash with Sheriff Tiraspol at Old Trafford and Ronaldo is part of that, while captain Harry Maguire, Donny van de Beek and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have also all returned to the squad.
Ten Hag feels Ronaldo has served his punishment and wants to move forward, with the whole group pulling in the same direction.
Ronaldo had been named among the substitutes against Spurs last Wednesday but refused to come on late in the game and then walked down the tunnel before full-time. United earned an impressive 2-0 victory over Antonio Conte’s side thanks to goals from Fred and Bruno Fernandes.
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Ronaldo released a statement on Thursday, which said: “As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches. That hasn’t changed. I haven’t changed.
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“I’m the same person and the same professional that I’ve been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision-making process.
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“I started very young, the older and most experienced players’ examples were always very important to me. Therefore, later on, I’ve always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I’ve represented.
“Unfortunately that’s not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us.
“Right now, I just feel I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my team-mates and be ready for everything in any given game. Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was.
“This is Manchester United and united we must stand. Soon we’ll be together again.”
Sky Sports football journalist Jack Wilkinson:
Cristiano Ronaldo has a habit of grabbing the headlines, but not even his sulking departure could detract from another encouraging stride in the right direction taken by Erik ten Hag’s players.
Ronaldo, an unused substitute, was unhappy with the watching brief he was handed as goals from Fred and Bruno Fernandes earned a deserved 2-0 victory over Tottenham, but when United perform to such a high level, his frustrations are baseless.
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From start to finish, United took a poor Spurs side to task, demonstrating their continued adaptation to Ten Hag’s methods with an attacking display as comprehensive as any seen at Old Trafford in memory, let alone since the Dutchman took charge.
United’s 28 attempts on goal was the most by any side in a Premier League match this season, the most Antonio Conte had ever conceded in his top-flight managerial career, and had it not been for the heroics of Hugo Lloris, the scoreline would have been just as emphatic.
With Ronaldo on the bench against Liverpool, Arsenal and now Spurs, games United have won with increasing proficiency, it’s clear the club’s transition to life without him is already under way. His petulance will only speed that up.
Dutch football expert Marcel van der Kraan on Sky Sports News:
“I don’t think it will be a calm conversation. We have seen in the past in Holland when he was dealing with stars in his squad that he would make sure who was in charge.
“He is also known as a manager who is very stable, he’s never been up or down in all his roles, his discipline, it’s always been the same. That’s also where his success comes from.
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“It is the first time in his career that he’s dealing with the calibre of Cristiano Ronaldo. Never before has that kind of star acted against him. He said in the summer Ronaldo was one of his most important players. If he’s fit, he will always be there, he said.
“He missed pre-season and Ten Hag made it very clear that was vital. There’s only one way and it’s the Erik ten Hag way. This is what will happen in today’s conversation.
“It was interesting that he said last night that he would deal with it tomorrow. In the past he has not been shy of confronting somebody. There is a famous incident, only two years ago, with Noa Lang, a Dutch international, who was giving him a mouthful on the pitch in a big cup game.
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“Ten Hag came off the bench and made very clear that was not accepted by him, shouted to him on the touchline in front of every television camera so everybody could hear it and the public behind the dugout. ‘I decide what happens here and it’s not your game, it is a team’s game!’ That was all audible. It also showed it’s all about the team.
“I expect Ronaldo not to be part of the squad at United unless there is big financial motives for the club to keep him on if they have to give him too much money to go.”
Ronaldo has a history of walkouts since he returned to the club 14 months ago.
The 37-year-old was an unused substitute during United’s 2-0 win over Spurs on Wednesday and was seen walking down the touchline and up the tunnel in the closing stages of the match.
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Earlier this season, Ronaldo was also seen leaving Old Trafford before the end of a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano during the club’s final pre-season friendly in August.
In October last year, Ronaldo was captured marching alone down the tunnel, seemingly muttering in frustration, after United were held to a 1-1 draw against Everton, for whom Andros Townsend scored and then mimicked the Portugal forward’s trademark goal celebration.
Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda tells Sky Sports News:
“I think it’s obvious that there is a need for ‘RnR’ [rest and recuperation] between Cristiano Ronaldo and Erik ten Hag. The people at Manchester United have to do something for the future of the club.
“It’s impossible to have this kind of conflict during the rest of the season if United want to fight to achieve their objectives.
“It’s obvious Ronaldo is not happy at Old Trafford and it’s obvious that Ten Hag is not dealing well with the pressure of winning at United whilst with the added pressure of Ronaldo and having a player of his stature on the bench.
“I can’t see Ronaldo leaving United in the winter transfer window. We had throughout the summer the stories that Ronaldo would go to Germany or another club in England or another club in Portugal.
“None of those stories had a solid base so who will offer a contract to the player who has caused conflict now during the first half of the season?
“I’m not saying that Ronaldo is guilty as I don’t agree with some of the decisions Ten Hag made but the player is not dealing well with the end of his career. It is a conflict that needs a resolution but it’s one that needs to be made by the club, and one that goes above the manager.
“Jorge Mendes needs to find a resolution for the situation but it’s not easy given the clubs and the projects that are available to him. United won’t want to sell him for a cheap price in January as his salary isn’t low.”
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