“I think Man United are showing disrespect to Ronaldo. I think he should have been let go before the [closing] of the window,” Roy Keane said on Sky Sports after the Man City defeat that only involved Ronaldo sitting on the bench.
“Okay, you’re the manager, you need options but you don’t hold onto Ronaldo to sit on the bench. He’s one of the greatest players ever.
“He’s played him in one or two European games. It’s just going to get uglier as the season goes on.
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“If he’s sitting on the bench for United, week in, week out it’s just going to get uglier. I think United have shown nothing but disrespect to Ronaldo.
“They should have let him go when the opportunity came. He did have options, I know that for a fact.
“But to hold onto Ronaldo to sit on the bench, I think is ridiculous for a player of his stature.
“So what if you’re 4-0 down. You look at his goal record, as good as chance of anyone of putting it in the back of the net.
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“People are obsessed with the pressing side of the game. You put the balls in the right areas, he’ll score goals.”
Ronaldo never came onto the pitch during United’s 6-3 defeat at the Etihad. Erik ten Hag explained that he did that partly out of respect for the forward’s career. Thus, Cristiano is not associated with a humiliating loss while also getting some rest.
At the same time, Ronaldo is famously keen to play as much football as possible, and the mere fact of his not in the starting XI for such an important game is not something he’s used to.