Erik ten Hag has said it is “not right” that Cristiano Ronaldo has been singled out for criticism for leaving early after the friendly with Rayo Vallecano given that other Manchester United players were also involved.
Ten Hag said this week that it was “unacceptable” that players left Old Trafford before the final whistle of the 1-1 draw with LaLiga side Rayo on Sunday.
But the Dutchman has hit back at what he perceives as unfair treatment of Ronaldo because the 37-year-old was not alone in making an early exit.
“Now I have to point, those who left, there 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,” Ten Hag told a news conference on Friday.
“You mention it, you correct them, then move on. I think we’ve said enough on it. I said it’s not correct.”
Despite missing United’s preseason tour of Thailand and Australia to deal with a family issue, Ronaldo could start against Brighton on Sunday after Anthony Martial picked up a hamstring injury.
Ronaldo has played just 45 minutes of football this summer, but Ten Hag is short of options up front.
“I’m satisfied with the whole team; we’re working good, good culture and Cristiano is working really tough and hard,” Ten Hag added.
“I’m really happy [to have Ronaldo]. I told you before, we have a top striker, really happy he’s here with the squad, and we stick to the plan.”
Sources have told ESPN that United are still searching for a midfielder and a forward before the deadline on Sept. 1.
“It’s about the right players, and I cannot give comments on a player under contract at another club,” he said.
“When you work with the current squad and develop players in your current squad, in this moment we have players in that position [midfield] and perform really well.
“I have a squad and I’m happy with the current squad; we make good progress, I’m happy with the signings until now. You don’t need any player, you need the right player; that’s what we’re working for.
“If it’s not the right player, no, we need the right players.”