Erik ten Hag has revealed his thinking behind the decision to hand Cristiano Ronaldo the captain’s armband for Manchester United’s 3-1 loss to Aston Villa on Sunday.
The striker was left out of the squad just two weeks ago for refusing to come off the bench in the 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, although the United manager has since been insistent that the matter has been put to bed.
It was a stance that extended into this weekend and speaking after the defeat by Unai Emery’s Villa, Ten Hag explained he felt there was no-one else suitable to be handed the armband on Sunday. “Harry Maguire is on the bench, Bruno Fernandes is our captain but was not available,” said the Dutchman in his post-match press conference.
“David de Gea is a leader but a goalie is far away from the outfield, then Casemiro is a leader, but he doesn’t speak 100 percent perfect English and Cristiano Ronaldo is a leader, and especially the leader of the team, so he is the man – it is clear.”
Ten Hag also opted against giving the likes of Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw or Christian Eriksen the captaincy for the day, although it evidently failed to inspire Ronaldo, who had a poor game at Villa Park.
The hosts were two goals ahead on Sunday after just seven minutes with Leon Bailly and Lucas Digne firing Villa to a fantastic beginning under Emery. Jacob Ramsey inadvertently turned Luke Shaw’s shot into his own goal just before half-time to give the Red Devils hope for the second period.
But that was quickly extinguished when Ramsey netted at the right end after 49 minutes to hand Villa all three points. The result leaves United fifth in the table after 13 games, and they face the Villans again next week in a Carabao Cup third-round clash.