Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag told to keep his mouth shut over Ronaldo

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has been told to “keep his mouth shut” after revealing that Cristiano Ronaldo was only his fourth choice captain against Aston Villa. Ronaldo skippered the side against the Villans as the Red Devils were thrashed 3-1.

After the showdown in the west Midlands, Ten Hag was asked why he selected Ronaldo to lead the side after the Portugal forward was banished from the matchday squad for the recent clash with Chelsea following his refusal to come on as a late substitute against Tottenham last month and storming out of Old Trafford before that match had even ended.

“Harry Maguire is on the bench, our captain of the club,” Ten Hag explained after seeing his side lose to Villa. “Then it is about David de Gea who is a leader but is a goalie and is far away from the outfield. Then Casemiro is the leader but he is not speaking perfect English so then Cristiano is the leader.”

Ronaldo would have been even further down the captaincy pecking order had Bruno Fernandes not been suspended for the match at Villa Park. And ex-England midfielder Tim Sherwood has slammed Ten Hag for his comments.

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“What basically he’s saying, he was fifth choice isn’t he,” Sherwood told talkSPORT. “Why he has to justify why he’s given Cristiano Ronaldo the armband, I just don’t know. Just keep your mouth shut.”

But former Scotland striker Ally McCoist believes that Ten Hag was backed into a corner and that all managers have to answer questions about their decisions. “It doesn’t surprise me at all and he’s given a perfect explanation for it,” McCoist said. “The one thing Ronaldo is, he’s a leader. He’s let himself down probably the last couple of weeks, with the substitute performance, walking away and all that kind of stuff.

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“However, over his career he’s been an absolute example. I don’t have a problem with it at all and as Ten Hag was saying there, he clearly wasn’t the first choice. But sometimes you have to make decisions you know somewhere down the line somebody will ask you about it. And that was certainly the case after the game. Listen, Manchester United were poor at the weekend – it wasn’t because Ronaldo was captain.”

United fell behind at Villa Park after just seven minutes as Leon Bailey broke clear of the away defence before beating De Gea. And the hosts doubled their advantage three minutes later when Lucas Digne curled in a free-kick.

The Red Devils’ deficit was reduced just before the interval when Jacob Ramsey turned Luke Shaw’s shot into his own net. But Ramsey made amends four minutes after the break as he scored Villa’s third goal to put the game to bed.

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