Gary Neville admits he is ‘disappointed’ in Cristiano Ronaldo for putting Manchester United and Erik ten Hag in a ‘messy’ situation on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
Ronaldo wants to leave Old Trafford to play in the Champions League this season but, so far, no club has come forward with a suitable offer for the player or United.
The Red Devils kick off their league campaign on Sunday and an injury to Anthony Martial puts new boss Erik ten Hag in the position of having to choose whether or not to play his want-away star.
“The Ronaldo situation is distracting,” said Neville on Sky Sports. You saw Ten Hag in the press conference on Friday having to answer questions about it.
“The fact Anthony Martial has got injured and he is the only other centre forward, and he actually was going to leave the club six months ago.
“The fact they haven’t got Frenkie de Jong in, the fact you haven’t been supported in the way the other managers have and getting the signings early, I think it all means it’s a more difficult job for Ten Hag than it already was.”
Neville was asked if he would play Ronaldo from the start against Brighton: “If Ronaldo is fit you start him, and I hope he stays.
“I’m a little bit disappointed in him because he’s letting the manager go into those press conferences. Cristiano Ronaldo is now a good age. He’s been the greatest player in the world along with Lionel Messi for the last 10 years. He’s got all the experience in the world.
“I don’t think he’s quite got the players that he wants…"
Gary Neville gives his verdict on the current situation and problems facing Erik ten Hag at Manchester United 👀 pic.twitter.com/R1ETreYjdI
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“Would it be too much to ask for him to come out and do an interview to clear things up, tell us what he’s actually thinking and what actually is happening?
“Would that be too much to ask a senior player? Is he not going to do an interview for the next three weeks? Is he not going to do an interview on Sunday after the game?
“Obviously, Sky are going to ask for him on Sunday after the game. Is he going to come out, stand up, do the interview, and not let everyone else have to answer the questions for him?
“I think that would be something that would be a start.
“So, for me, I am disappointed because that clarity we haven’t got and the reason Ten Hag is getting a bit jumpy in his press conference is because he’s being asked difficult questions. He’s probably not really telling us the truth of it because he can’t.
“The reality of it is if a Champions League club comes in for Cristiano Ronaldo in the next two weeks, I think we know he wants to take that move. We know that. It has emerged over the last few weeks.
“At the moment, no-one has come in for him. So, that is why the club are saying at this moment in time that he may stay and we want him to stay, but if someone came in I think he would go.
“Should Manchester United be waiting two to three weeks before the end of a transfer window as to whether their star centre-forward leaves? I don’t think they should be in that position.
“Do they just say no and tell him he’s staying come what may? That would be clarity from the club I suppose but then there’s a big risk that Cristiano in two weeks’ time throws his toys out of the pram and says I’m leaving.
“That is the sort of thing that could happen and that’s why I find it unpalatable.
“There’s a bigger thing for me also because I want his Man Utd career to end well. What he’s achieved at the club and what he’s achieved in the game, is it too much to ask for the next 12 months for him to encourage the young players, be a leader on the pitch and do the interviews when your team win and when they lose.
“Make sure you set the standards that he always does in training in terms of his performance. Score the goals and let everybody be fair and let him leave Manchester with just the highest thoughts.
“This is messy for him, messy for the club. It is messy for everybody.
“We want him to stay. We are desperate for him to stay. We just don’t like these side sagas that drag on.
“They never look good. They always look a little bit distasteful, and I think it needs clarifying. It needs sorting out quite quickly because we can’t have this for another three weeks if you are a Manchester United fan, and certainly if you are Erik ten Hag.
“He does need to be able to concentrate on the whole team, on his performance and on the tactical way of playing. He doesn’t want to be distracted all the time by the star player and if he’s going to stay or go.”