Copy of 2022-10-02T144311Z_1262851449_UP1EIA214VYFY_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-MCI-MUN-REPORT-1664798365269
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo on the substitutes bench during the derby against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain. Image Credit: Action Images via Reuters

Manchester United coach Erik Ten Hag and his players were left red-faced as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City went goal crazy at the Etihad Stadium. Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both grabbed hat-tricks in the emphatic win but five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo was left to watch the mauling from the sidelines.

Ten Hag used all five of his allotted subs but Ronaldo had no involvement at all and now questions are being asked about the 37-year-old’s future at Old Trafford. The coach opted to start with Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Antony up front but when things began to go badly wrong he sent on Anthony Martial and ignored the Portuguese icon.

Best player

City won 6-3 and after the match Ten Hag told reporters that Ronaldo remained unused ‘out of respect for his big career’ and that he wanted to spare his blushes. That sounds like nonsense - I think it was disrespectful treatment.

To not play arguably the best player of all time in such a huge match in which he could have made a difference was bizarre. United should have let him go when the opportunity came in the summer when he had options but they insisted he stayed. But to then to keep him on the bench when the team was crumbling and desperate for some quality makes no sense at all.

United were 4-0 down at half time and Ronaldo should have been sent on in the second 45 because he would have lifted the team and made a difference. His goals record is superb and he would have had as good a chance as anyone of putting the ball in the back of the net. He would have been desperate to come on and help his team whatever the score.

High press

Some say he isn’t able to play in a high press but that is insignificant because if you put the balls in the right areas Ronaldo will score plenty of goals. It doesn’t matter if he isn’t pressing if he is going to score 20 goals a season. He was the league’s leading scorer for United last season and he wasn’t doing much pressing then.

The top players want to play week in, week out and there is no way he would have come back to Old Trafford if he knew he would be sitting on the bench in a derby game. It is unfair treatment of the Portuguese icon who will no doubt be the star for his country at the Qatar World Cup. He is as fit as a fiddle and can play at the top level for several more years.

Ten Hag got his team selection badly wrong - his midfield trio of Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes were overrun from the first minute - but to not give Ronaldo a look in was a big mistake. The superstar deserves far better than this.