Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has slammed the club’s treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo, after the player was left on the bench during the 6-3 mauling by Manchester City.
Erik ten Hag started Marcus Rashford up front against Manchester United’s local rivals, with Bruno Fernandes just behind him and Antony and Jadon Sancho on either wing. Rashford barely troubled the City defenders though and Ten Hag changed things up in the 59th minute.
He took Rashford off to bring on a new centre-forward. Rather than giving Ronaldo a chance, however, the Dutchman opted to replace Rashford with Anthony Martial.
The 26-year-old did as well as he could given the circumstances and notched two goals late in the game, making the score 6-3.
However, Manchester United never really had a chance of picking up anything from the match. They were weak in defence, open in midfield and blunt in attack.
After the loss, Ten Hag claimed he left Ronaldo on the bench ‘out of respect for his big career’. He also said: “The other thing was the advantage I could bring Martial, he needs the minutes but I don’t want to point it out like that.”
When analysing the match for Sky Sports though, Keane blasted United for how they have dealt with the Ronaldo situation.
The pundit thinks his former team-mate should have been sold in the summer transfer window if he wasn’t going to play under Ten Hag.
Instead, Ronaldo is facing the prospect of spending most of the campaign warming the bench. For Keane, this is unfathomable, given the attacker’s achievements in the game.
Ronaldo being disrespected by Man Utd – Roy Keane
“I think Man Utd are showing disrespect to Ronaldo. I think he should have been let go before the [closing] of the window,” Keane said (via the Daily Mail).
“Okay, you’re the manager, you need options but you don’t hold onto Ronaldo to sit on the bench. He’s one of the greatest players ever.
“He’s played him in one or two European games. It’s just going to get uglier as the season goes on.
“If he’s sitting on the bench for United, week in, week out it’s just going to get uglier. I think United have shown nothing but disrespect to Ronaldo.
“They should have let him go when the opportunity came. He did have options, I know that for a fact.
“But to hold onto Ronaldo to sit on the bench, I think is ridiculous for a player of his stature.”
United need more goals
Keane also hinted he ‘knows for a fact’ that Ronaldo could have left the club this summer.
Keane thinks Ten Hag should be prioritising goals from his striker, rather than someone who aims to press the opposition defenders constantly.
“So what if you’re 4-0 down. You look at his goal record, as good as chance of anyone of putting it in the back of the net,” he added.
“People are obsessed with the pressing side of the game. You put the balls in the right areas, he’ll score goals.”
It is certainly surprising United kept hold of Ronaldo just to keep him on the bench. You would have thought Ten Hag spoke with senior club officials about him not needing the Portuguese, and this would have prompted them to agree a sale.
Instead, United chiefs kept hold of Ronaldo. And this leaves Ten Hag in an awkward position as he clearly doesn’t want to use the star on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, the derby defeat has seen United plot a £35m move for an in-form striker, according to reports.