Man United news: Erik ten Hag unsure if Cristiano Ronaldo will face Brighton

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at Manchester United's training ground on Friday morning

Goodbye Cristiano! Erik ten Hag says it’s unfair that the ‘spotlight’ is on Ronaldo for pulling out ahead of Man United’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano… but the Dutchman admits he’s not sure if the forward will play against Brighton this weekend.

  • Several players left Old Trafford early during Manchester United’s friendly
  • Erik ten Hag said it was “unacceptable”, which was seen as a blow to Ronaldo
  • But the Dutchman says the striker should not be singled out for criticism
  • Ronaldo could play against Brighton on Sunday when Anthony Martial is sidelined

Erik ten Hag leapt to Cristiano Ronaldo’s defense on the eve of the new season as the soap opera surrounding Manchester United’s star player continued.

After being seen taking a swipe at Ronaldo, telling Dutch television that it was “unacceptable” that the player had left United’s final pre-season game against Rayo Vallecano before the end, Ten Hag did his best to play down the controversy .

The United manager said it was unfair for Ronaldo to shoulder all the blame as a number of United players, including Portugal team-mate Diogo Dalot, also walked out of Old Trafford in the early hours of Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at Manchester United’s training ground on Friday morning

The striker appeared to leave the friendly with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford soon

The striker looked set to leave the friendly with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford soon

“Now I have to point out, those who left… there were many players who left, but the focus is on Cristiano, and that’s not right,” said Ten Hag.

“So do your research and find out that a lot of players are staying. That’s not right or acceptable. I don’t understand what the relationship is. He was part of it. There were a lot of players.”

Asked if he has spoken to Ronaldo and the other players, Ten Hag said: “You mention it, correct them and then move on. We’ve said enough. I said it’s not right.

Ten Hag can only hope his side hit the ground running just as quickly on Sunday, when United host Brighton, after a challenging first summer in charge.

Ten Hag praised the pre-season work of his players in his press conference on Friday afternoon

It has been dominated by the Ronaldo narrative after he asked to leave the club and then missed most of pre-season with an unspecified family problem.

It’s no surprise to see United’s number 7 dominating the build-up to the match, given that his agent Jorge Mendes still has 26 more days to design.

However, Ten Hag claimed they are planning the new campaign with 37-year-old Ronaldo in their squad and want last season’s 24-goal top scorer to stay.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “We have a top-class striker and I’m happy he’s here. I’m satisfied with the whole team. We’re working well and Cristiano is working hard.”

Erik ten Hag says the focus shouldn't just be on Ronaldo to leave before full-time

Erik ten Hag says the focus shouldn’t just be on Ronaldo to leave before full-time

At the moment, the most pressing issue surrounding Ronaldo is whether he will start against Brighton, having played just 45 minutes of football this summer.

Anthony Martial will miss the game with a hamstring strain after leading the charge in pre-season, leaving Ten Hag with a huge call-up to make his first Premier League team selection.

Will he throw Ronaldo into the starting line-up or stick with the players who have worked hard at Carrington and tour to find an alternative replacement for Martial?

“We’ll see on Sunday,” said Ten Hag. “I think we’re going to have solutions to fix that.”

Anthony Martial ruled out for clash with Seagulls with minor hamstring problem

Anthony Martial ruled out for clash with Seagulls with minor hamstring problem

There’s no doubt the Dutchman would like to have a few more solutions at his disposal, though. He has made no secret of his desire for another striker, and United’s summer-long pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong shows no sign of slowing down.

Ten Hag sticks to its mantra of wanting the right players through the door; otherwise, he’s happy with what United already have.

“You don’t need any player, you need the right player,” he said. “If he’s not the right player, no, I’m happy with the current squad.

Do we want Frenkie? I do not know. It’s about the right players and I can’t comment on a player under contract at another club.”

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