File image of Cristiano Ronaldo© AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo returned to first-team training with Manchester United for the first time on Tuesday since his refusal to come on as a substitute against Tottenham last week. The Portuguese was left out of United’s squad for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea and did individual training with fitness coaches on Friday. But Ronaldo’s return to the group hints he could be involved for Thursday’s visit of Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League.
Erik ten Hag and Ronaldo have reportedly been in dialogue since the former Ajax boss took the decision to omit the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Ronaldo had also earned a rebuke from Ten Hag in pre-season for leaving Old Trafford after being substituted at half-time of a friendly against Rayo Vallecano.
“There has to be consequences for behavior or when it’s bad behavior and it’s the second time, then you can’t let it go because otherwise it is going to be miserable for the future,” said Ten Hag last week.
“Then you have to take this measure which I don’t like it because I prefer the squad with Cristiano on board. “It’s not about (showing who is in charge). It’s about the club. I have to take decisions in the interests of the club and the team especially. That’s my job.”
Ronaldo blamed his refusal to come on in what was widely considered United’s best performance under Ten Hag as Spurs were swept aside 2-0 as a “heat of the moment” decision.
“This is Manchester United, and united we must stand,” Ronaldo posted on Instagram. “Soon we’ll be together again.”
Ronaldo tried to engineer an exit out of Old Trafford before the season began, but there were no suitors willing to meet his wage demands.
With just over six months left on his United contract, he will reportedly be allowed to leave on a free transfer in January should a deal be reached with another club.
The 37-year-old has scored twice in 12 appearances this season, but has started just two times in the Premier League.
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