Erik ten Hag slams the ‘unacceptable’ Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United prematurely

Erik ten Hag slams the ‘unacceptable’ Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United prematurely

Erik ten Hag slams the 'unacceptable' Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United early - ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Erik ten Hag slams the ‘unacceptable’ Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United early – ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Erik ten Hag attacked Cristiano Ronaldo and the other Manchester United players who left Old Trafford before Sunday’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano was over.

In the clearest sign yet that Ten Hag is getting tough with the wanton Portuguese striker, the United manager accused Ronaldo and his team-mates of “unacceptable” behavior after announcing they didn’t have his permission to leave the stadium before the end to leave the game.

United sources said the situation was an internal disciplinary matter and would not confirm whether the Ten Hag players involved were or would be fined.

Ronaldo, who was substituted at half-time in the 1-1 draw in his first appearance last pre-season, was pictured in scenes leaving Old Trafford around 10 minutes before the final whistle, adding to the scrutiny of his future.

Team-mate Diogo Dalot was also photographed doing so, although the Portuguese defender was not included in United’s matchday squad, having played Atletico Madrid in the previous day’s friendly against Oslo.

And Ten Hag has made it clear he will not tolerate such behavior after publicly disguising Ronaldo and some teammates in an interview with Dutch television.

“I certainly don’t condone that,” Ten Hag told Viaplay Sport Netherlands. “This is unacceptable. For everyone involved. We are a team and that means you have to see it through to the end [of the game].”

Rayo Vallecano game was Cristiano Ronaldo's first pre-season appearance - GETTY IMAGES

Rayo Vallecano game was Cristiano Ronaldo’s first pre-season appearance – GETTY IMAGES

It’s unclear which other United players besides Ronaldo Ten Hag was referring to. But the manager had instructed his entire squad – including those who played Atletico a day earlier – to come to the Rayo game and have a pre-game meal together as he continues his efforts to bring the dressing room closer together.

Most of the players who played Atletico watched the Rayo game from the directors’ box or their own box. Midfielder Scott McTominay was spotted at Old Trafford an hour after the end of the game.

It’s not the first time Ronaldo has disappeared without permission since his return to Old Trafford last summer. Ralf Rangnick, United’s interim manager last season, revealed Ronaldo was denied permission to travel to Portugal at the weekend of the club’s 4-1 derby defeat by Manchester City in March.

Ten Hag was also asked if Ronaldo fit into his plans.

“I think he can,” the manager told Sky Sports. “He needs to get fit. He’s just started [training]. He’s a fantastic soccer player. He has proved it so many times, but you will always be judged on what you present now, what you do now. So the team and Cristiano have to prove it.”

Ten Hag has introduced a number of measures to significantly improve discipline in the squad since taking office in May. Players will be fined or dropped for being late for team meetings, meals, or practice.

Ten Hag’s assistant Steve McClaren claimed this week the players had been asking for more discipline and structure and the manager has now shown he is not afraid to take on the club’s most iconic player.

Ronaldo and Ten Hag appeared to have a tense exchange on the touchline during a first-half drinking break, with the unsettled striker looking clearly unfazed and the 37-year-old will start the new season on the substitutes’ bench.

United meet Brighton in the opening game of the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday, with Anthony Martial expected to lead the attack.

After missing United’s entire pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to family reasons, Ronaldo reported to the Carrington training base as recently as last Tuesday, accompanied by his agent Jorge Mendes, who was initiating talks with the club about his client’s future of the club.

United have refused to back down from their stance that Ronaldo is not for sale and the player’s hopes of a move to a Champions League side are dwindling as a host of leading clubs have backed away from moves.

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