Erik ten Hag explains Cristiano Ronaldo absence from Man Utd starting XI vs Brighton

The Manchester United manager said the forward is lacking fitness after a short pre-season.

Erik ten Hag has said Cristiano Ronaldo was not selected to start in Manchester United’s opening game of the Premier League season due to his fitness levels.

The 37-year-old’s future has dominated the headlines for the Red Devils this summer, with Ronaldo believed to be keen on a move away from Old Trafford.

However, as the campaign starts with a home clash against Brighton & Hove Albion, Ronaldo remains at the club.

Ronaldo played just 45 minutes in pre-season. Credit: Getty.

He played just 45 minutes in pre-season, and featured in the first half of the 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano last weekend.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Portugal star was named among the substitutes against the Seagulls, despite Anthony Martial missing with a hamstring injury.

Martinez and Eriksen have been named in the starting XI vs Brighton. Credit: Getty.

Speaking to MUTV before the game, Ten Hag was asked if Ronaldo missed out due to a lack of fitness and responded: “Yeah. A short pre-seson. He only started training. He only played 45 minutes and he is not at the fitness levels as the rest of the team.

“In the Premier League, the games I saw this weekend were really tough and high intensity.”

Without Ronaldo or Martial, Ten Hag selected an attacking four of Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen and Marcus Rashford.

The latter could play centrally against Brighton, or Fernandes may operate as a false nine.

Meanwhile, Ten Hag also handed a debut to Lisandro Martinez, with Victor Lindelof not in the matchday squad.

United team in full: De Gea; Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Sancho, Fernandes, Eriksen; Rashford.