Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Old Trafford before end of Manchester United friendly | Manchester United


Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford on Sunday before it was completed, unsure if Erik ten Hag had given the 37-year-old permission to do so.

The striker, who wants to leave the club, had played a first half under the new manager after missing the previous five pre-season games due to a family issue. At the break, Ten Hag replaced the striker with Amad Diallo and he was later pictured outside the stadium before the match closed. But, when United were asked if Ronaldo was allowed to do so, the club were unable to provide a clarification.


Ten Hag had previously asked the whole team, involved or not, to have lunch together and then attend the warm-up match. United had also played on Saturday – the 1-0 loss to Atlético Madrid in Oslo – with the team landing in Manchester at 8am on Sunday. A group of players including Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rashford, Brandon Williams, Anthony Elanga and Tyrell Malacia sat in the directors’ box during the game along with other members of the squad who weren’t playing elsewhere at Old Trafford.

While Dalot was also featured in a picture of Ronaldo leaving early, it was unclear whether the latter would face any disciplinary action from Ten Hag. As the manager had not scheduled a post-match conference afterwards, the media could not ask. But the player may not have pleased the 52-year-old either with his ‘Sunday the king plays’ comment on Instagram on Friday. As it revealed sensitive selection news or was presumptive on Ronaldo’s part, Ten Hag can be appalled at the effect on discipline and team spirit.

The Dutchman offered MUTV an analysis of the real-life performance and a pre-season that ends in three wins, two draws and one loss, as United prepare to host Brighton in the 2022-3 curtain-raiser on Sunday.

“Overall, I’m happy; we had a good pre-season,” said Ten Hag. “We are making good progress and we are ready for the season, but I know there is still a lot of room for improvement and we have to improve.”

Of his first game in charge at Old Trafford, Ten Hag said: “The reception has been fantastic. I felt the atmosphere in the stadium; I felt the vibe they want to send to the team. There has to be cooperation between the fans and the team so that we get the right emotion and, above all, the right results.

In what was an XI of second-string players – the likes of Donny van de Beek, Tahith Chong and Alejandro Garnacho – and potential regulars, with Christian Eriksen given a first start and Lisandro Martínez a start, Ronaldo’s early contributions were a pass rolled to the Dane in a fluid motion and missed an easy chance with Stole Dimitrievski’s gaping goal.

Before that, Rayo Vallecano, who finished 12th in La Liga last season, came close to scoring seconds after kick-off. A United full-back with captain Raphaël Varane fell asleep as Álvaro García rushed into the box, his shot moving Tom Heaton to an abrupt stop.

United, under a scorching sun, were better going forward. Ronaldo, falling deep as Ten Hag would have liked, drilled the ball down a left lane towards Van de Beek, whose instant cross to the impressive Garnacho was a fine idea poorly executed.

As half-time approached, a slight setback appeared between Ten Hag and Ronaldo during a break in play: the manager appeared to be remedying a positional issue which the player shrugged. In a period that ended, it was Ronaldo’s last notable sighting as Ten Hag swapped him for Diallo for the second half. The youngster had an instant impact, scoring from the rebound after a 20-yard effort from Alex Telles.

But, in what was the poorest of United’s six summer friendlies, the Spanish side equalized with Garcia returning the ball.