As Monday’s huge Premier League clash approaches, Erik ten Hag faces the media as his Manchester United side host Liverpool.
New manager Ten Hag has tasted defeat in his first two games.
On the opening day of the season, the Reds lost 2-1 to Graham Potter’s Brighton & Hove Albion, and that didn’t get any better over the weekend.
United were beaten 4-0 by Brentford, where four early first-half goals left Ten Hag’s men humbled by their strong away support.
Last season’s Champions League finalists Liverpool have also failed to win either of their opening two games, being held to a draw by London clubs Fulham and Crystal Palace earlier this week.
For Ten Hag, one dilemma that has overshadowed the majority of his good work in pre-season has been the ongoing Cristiano Ronaldo saga.
The Portugal international hasn’t traveled to United on their tour of Thailand and Australia, although this is due to personal reasons.
However, Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from the club where he scored for the first time in European football.
The 37-year-old’s magical return to Old Trafford last summer turned sour enough, with United having their worst Premier League season last time out, and questions have been raised about Ronaldo’s compatibility with the system and his attitude.
Ronaldo scored 24 times for United last season, finishing as their top scorer in 2021/22.
During Friday’s press conference, Ten Hag was asked if the former Juventus and Real Madrid man would still be at the club when the transfer window ends, where Ten Hag replied: “He’s in our plans.”
On the opening day of the season, Ronaldo was brought on as a second-half substitute due to a fitness backlog, with Ten Hag opting for new signing Christian Eriksen in a false nine role.
Anthony Martial has been injured since the start of the season but was pictured in training on Friday and could be in contention to start as a central striker against Liverpool.
Asked about Ronaldo’s attitude since the match at the new Gtech Community Stadium, Ten Hag opted to defend the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
He said, “I don’t know why he in particular is [the] concentrate after Saturday.
“It was the performance of the team and the attitude of the whole team, including Ronaldo.”
In a short excerpt from an exclusive interview featuring the former Ajax manager sitting with United legend Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, Ten Hag was asked what he thought of Ronaldo’s comments on social media where he stated he would “tell the truth” in two weeks, to which Ten Hag replied, “I don’t know what he wants to achieve with this.”
Ronaldo has been linked with a move to a number of clubs such as Premier League rivals Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, and it has been widely reported that the striker wants out.
Ten Hag, however, denied all rumors that Ronaldo wanted to leave, telling Neville and Carragher: “That’s not what he’s telling us.”
The extended interview will be released before kick-off on Monday at 6:30 p.m.