Manchester United have been left furious at Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive attack on the club and manager Erik ten Hag, sources have told ESPN.
United are particularly angry at the timing of the interview with Piers Morgan, during which Ronaldo said he “doesn’t respect” Ten Hag, coming just hours after the team had made a point of demonstrating their team spirit and togetherness following the dramatic later winner at Fulham.
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United have so far refused to comment on the interview with sources telling ESPN they are keen to keep the emphasis on what they believe was a significant victory at Craven Cottage, secured thanks to Alejandro Garnacho’s stoppage-time goal.
Privately, however, the club are disputing a number of points raised by Ronaldo.
The 37-year-old claims United and Ten Hag wanted to “force him out” in the summer but sources have told ESPN that during the transfer window, United were made aware that the striker’s representatives were actively looking for a move away.
United have also taken issue with Ronaldo’s claim that their Carrington training base has not been updated since he was last at Old Trafford.
Sources have told ESPN that the pool, canteen and recovery areas have all been revamped while more than £200,000 was spent to build a state-of-the-art analysis and meeting room at the specific request of Ten Hag.
Sources have told ESPN that United will leave Ten Hag to deal with Ronaldo’s latest indiscretion with the backing of football director John Murtough and chief executive Richard Arnold.
Ten Hag took the lead when Ronaldo refused to appear as a substitute against Tottenham in October, choosing to suspend the Portugal international from first team training and making him unavailable for the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
Some sources close to the club believe Ronaldo’s interview is designed as a “power play” to force a move away from Old Trafford in January while also negotiating a financial settlement for the remaining months of his contract, which runs until June. United have been open to letting Ronaldo leave for free since the summer but have been reluctant to agree to a pay-off.
Sources have told ESPN that United only received one offer from Saudi Arabia during the transfer window despite reported interest from Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Napoli and Atletico Madrid.