Erik ten Hag has made his first public comments on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United exit.
The forward left the Red Devils by mutual consent last month following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticised the club’s players, owners and former legends. Ronaldo also took a swipe at Ten Hag on several occasions during the chat with the TV host and claimed he had ‘no respect’ for the Dutchman.
“The coach didn’t have respect for me. So this is why the relationship, it’s in that way. He keep saying in the press that he come to me, he like me blah, blah, blah but that it’s only for the press, 100 %,” the Portugal attacker said. “If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never going to have respect for you. I’m not hiding that the empathy with the coach is not good.”
The interview broke in the first week of the World Cup break, meaning Ten Hag has not conducted any interviews or press conferences since and not spoken publicly on the matter. But United’s mid-season training camp in Spain has resulted in Ten Hag speaking to the club’s media channel.
The former Ajax manager discussed a range of topics with MUTV, including his aspirations for the team in Spain, a reflection on the 2022/23 campaign to date and his aims for the rest of the season, before addressing the Ronaldo debacle. “He’s gone and it’s the past,” Ten Hag responded in a stern tone. “We are now looking forward and we’re looking to the future.”
Ten Hag’s first few months at Old Trafford have been disrupted by several incidents involving Ronaldo. The forward failed to show up for United’s pre-season tour, fuelling months of transfer rumours, although the 37-year-old has since explained this was due to his daughter contracting bronchitis.
Ronaldo was also one of several players who left Old Trafford early during the final pre-season match against Rayo Vallecano, an act Ten Hag labelled as ‘unacceptable’. The Portugal international then refused to come off the bench in October’s win over Tottenham Hotspur and stormed out of the ground, resulting in a one-match suspension by the club.