Cristiano Ronaldo: Edinson Cavani’s Past Comments Shed Light on Erik ten Hag’s Fallout With Al Nassr Star

Cristiano Ronaldo: Edinson Cavani’s Past Comments Shed Light on Erik ten Hag’s Fallout With Al Nassr Star

Martin Moses
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:26 PM
In this article:
Cristiano Ronaldo logo
C. Ronaldo
Al Nassr FC logoFPortugal logo
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Boca Juniors logoFUruguay logo
  • Edinson Cavani felt that Cristiano Ronaldo always made maangers feel forced to play him
  • Currently at Valencia, Cavani shared the dressing room with Ronaldo but had limited playing time
  • Ronaldo would later have a falling out with Erik ten hag that saw his Manchester United contract ripped apart

Erik ten Hag's short reign as Manchester United boss has been marked by extreme highs and lows. He started his tenure in England with back-to-back losses against Brighton and Brentford, with many doubting his potential to take the club forward.

He thereafter had a fallout with Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best finisher that football has ever seen. Ronaldo failed to report for preseason training as he dealt with a family issue.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Al-Nassr, Manchester United, Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag talks to Cristiano Ronaldo on August 27th, 2022. Photo by Matthew Ashton.
Source: Getty Images

Upon his return, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner struggled to break into the squad. His frustrations eventually boiled over in a tell-it-all interview with Piers Morgan. His contract was thereafter terminated with the full blessing of ten Hag.

Other managers would relish at the opportunity of working with Ronaldo. He has had a reliable source of goals throughout his career despite his advanced age. So how come ten Hag seemed unhappy with playing him during their short sticky time together?

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To ten Hag's credit, his side delivered without the Portuguese star on the pitch. Marcus Rashford has particularly picked up the pace after Ronaldo's departure.

Cavani on Ronaldo

Edinson Cavani's past comments attempt to explain why ten Hag felt uncomfortable with having Ronaldo in his squad. The Uruguayan quit the club before ten Hag arrived. He issued a thinly veiled attack on Ronaldo, not because of his talent but of how he made managers feel forced to play him.

"It's not because I didn't want to play with Cristiano Ronaldo. No. Because I had the opportunity to know him, and he is a great professional. It was more about understanding the situation. Not because I couldn't play in my role at Manchester, but because there are many things in football nowadays that are different from how they were with other people," as quoted by Mirror.

Cavani played with Ronaldo for one season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick. He was forced to give up the number 7 shirt after Ronaldo switched a surprise move from Juventus before the end of the 2021 transfer window.

Was ten Hag forced to play Ronaldo?

If there is one thing that the Dutch tactician has shown so far is that he is a respecter of no person. A strict disciplinarian. He did not shy away from dropping Ronaldo or substituting him off when it was not working.

His biggest issue, perhaps, was the talk that came from his decisions. A player of Ronaldo's stature is bound to make headlines even when he is on the bench. Take the Manchester derby, for example, last year when both Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat tricks. Ronaldo was an unused sub in this game but still made more storylines than the Manchester City duo.

It was unwarranted attention that ten Hag could do without. He has continued with his steady rebuild, whose first fruits could come through on Sunday.

Ten Hag's meeting with Ferguson

Sports Brief had earlier reported that Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has opened up on his dinner meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson hours ahead of the Red Devils' Europa League clash against Barcelona.

United are scheduled to host the La Liga giants for the second leg of their knockout fixture at Old Trafford on Thursday night, February 23.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
Erik Ten Haag