Soccer: Cristiano Ronaldo criticized “unfairly”?

MANCHESTER, UK — Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag tried to shield Cristiano Ronaldo from criticism on Friday after the striker left a pre-season game early.

Ten Hag said the Portuguese superstar remains in his plans for next season.

Ronaldo reportedly told club management during the off-season of his intention to leave to play for a club in the Champions League and speculation about his intentions escalated after he quit, along with other players, Old Trafford before the end of last Sunday’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano.

Ten Hag initially said it was “unacceptable for anyone” to leave early, but was quick to point out on Friday that Ronaldo should not be the exclusive target of criticism, as several players had done the same.

The 37-year-old Ronaldo returned to Man U last year from Real Madrid. He was, however, unable to help the club fight for a trophy in a disappointing season, at the conclusion of which United finished sixth in the Premier League, 35 points behind the champions. Man City.

Ten Hag will be entering his first campaign in charge of the team and he is keen to keep the five-time Ballon d’Or winner at the club, although it is still unclear how Ronaldo fits into his tactical schemes.

Ronaldo missed the pre-tour of Thailand and Australia for family reasons, but played the first 45 minutes against Rayo Vallecano.

Ten Hag wouldn’t comment on the Portuguese’s use against Brighton but made it clear he expects Ronaldo to be a key part of his club.

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