London — Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo said he regretted leaving early during a Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur last month, but added his decision to walk off came because he felt “provoked” by manager Erik ten Hag.
Last month, Ten Hag said Ronaldo refused to come on as a substitute in the 2-0 home win over Spurs before walking down the tunnel with a few minutes of the game remaining.
Ronaldo was then left out of the squad that faced Chelsea the following Saturday.
A couple of weeks before the Spurs game, Ronaldo had been left on the bench for United’s defeat at Manchester City, with Ten Hag saying he opted not to bring on the Portugal captain in the 6-3 thrashing out of respect for his career.
“You don’t put me on against Manchester City because of respect for my career and you want to put me on for three minutes against Tottenham? It doesn’t make sense,” Ronaldo told Piers Morgan in an interview for TalkTV, the second part of which aired on Thursday.
“I think he did it on purpose. I felt provoked not only because of that game, but before. He doesn’t respect (me) the way I should deserve. But it is what it is. This is why probably, the game against Tottenham, I left.
“I will be honest with you, it’s something that I regret, leaving the stadium (against Tottenham) … A coach to put me in three minutes in a game (is) not allowed for me. Sorry, I’m not that kind of player. I know what I can give to the teams.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Ronaldo also said that United betrayed him and alleged he was being forced out of the club.
United said this week that they would address Ronaldo’s comments that he felt betrayed by the club and was being forced out only after establishing the full facts.
The club added on Friday they had initiated “appropriate steps” in response to Ronaldo’s interview.
“We will not be making further comment until this process reaches its conclusion,” United said.