Manchester United were dealt a humiliating defeat by arch-rivals Manchester City in their blockbuster Premier League encounter on October 2. Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat tricks as Manchester City destroyed Manchester United 6-3 at the Etihad.
Erik Ten Hag became the sixth United manager since Alex Ferguson’s retirement to lose his first Manchester derby. Consequently, Ten Hag was very forthright while assessing his side in the post-match press conference.
A scathing ten Hag said that his side lacked belief and folded like a “pack of cards.” After the humiliating defeat, Ten Hag’s controversial decision to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for the entirety of the match has grabbed the headlines.
Ten Hag was asked about his decision to leave Ronaldo on the bench in the high-stakes match. The Dutchman suggested that he didn’t field the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out of respect for his great career.
“I wouldn’t bring him in because out of respect for Cristiano, for his big career, and the other thing was the advantage I could bring Anthony Martial, he needs the minutes but I don’t want to point it out like that," Ten Hag was quoted as saying in the presser.
In the match, Manchester United were reeling at the end of the first half as Manchester City led 4-0. Although Antony and Anthony Martial managed to claw back some pride in the second half, they couldn’t salvage the match. Erik Ten Hag tried to change the course of the match by using all five of his substitutes. While Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Fred were all brought in the second period, Ronaldo was left out on the bench.
Ronaldo was far from impressed after it emerged that he wouldn’t be coming on to make an impact. Footage and pictures of a dejected Ronaldo have emerged on Twitter.
While some pundits and fans have questioned Ten Hag’s decision, others have backed him.
#MUFC had nothing to lose in second half & ended up scoring three goals. & Ronaldo playing well & getting on the scoresheet would have only helped ten Hag. So if he solely hasn't brought him on to somehow protect his 'pride' that's ridiculous & surely not what Ronaldo would want.— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) October 2, 2022
I get his point to be honest . Bringing him on at 4-0 and 6-1 would have been an insult . ETH may not have delivered the line correctly and probably would have been best not saying it. ( although I like his honesty ) https://t.co/06sP310tWF— Gary Neville (@GNev2) October 2, 2022
Former Manchester United player Gary Neville has backed Ten Hag’s decision to not bring in Ronaldo. But Neville has also opined that it would have been best if Ten Hag hadn’t said so in the presser.