Cristiano Ronaldo’s second stint at Manchester United really isn’t going to plan.
The 37-year-old, who left Wednesday’s match against Tottenham early, has sought to explain his actions after being dropped by the club for its upcoming game against Chelsea.
Ronaldo was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s win and was seen walking down the tunnel with several minutes left to play.
After the match, manager Erik ten Hag said he would “deal with” Ronaldo and the club later announced he would not be involved in its next English Premier League tie. On Friday, ten Hag told reporters that Ronaldo had refused to come on.
The Portuguese star addressed his behavior in an Instagram post on Thursday but stopped short of an apology.
“As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches,” he wrote.
“That hasn’t changed. I haven’t changed. I’m the same person and the same professional that I’ve been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision making process.
“I started very young, the older and most experienced players’ examples were always very important to me.
“Therefore, later on, I’ve always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I’ve represented. Unfortunately that’s not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment get’s the best of us.”
Ronaldo’s relationship with the club began to deteriorate when he reportedly tried to push for a transfer ahead of this season.
He missed the preseason as a result and has seen his playing time under ten Hag limited to mainly appearances off the bench.
In truth, his performances have not warranted a regular starting place.
In his eight appearances so far this season – six of which have come from the subs bench – Ronaldo has scored just once.
It seems the forward is not content with his new role at the club and his fractious relationship with the new regime has been obvious to see.
Ronaldo appeared unhappy when he was substituted 72 minutes into United’s 0-0 draw against Newcastle last week, a decision ten Hag said he took to keep his strikers fresh ahead of a busy run of fixtures.
On Friday, ten Hag said Ronaldo could still play an important part in the team’s season.
“Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates and be ready for everything in any given game,” Ronaldo added.
“Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United, and united we must stand. Soon we’ll be together again.”