Erik ten Hag admitted yesterday on that Cristiano Ronaldo is frustrated when he is not playing for Manchester United but insisted he is happy at Old Trafford. The summer transfer window was dominated by speculation over the 37-year-old’s future after the club’s disappointing campaign in 2021/22. Ronaldo reportedly received an eye-watering offer from Saudi Arabia, but no Champions League giants made their move for the Portugal attacker, who missed United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to a family issue. The forward could start just his fourth match in all competitions when United take on Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League today.
Ronaldo was left on the bench for Sunday’s 6-3 derby hammering at Manchester City, leading to renewed questions about his future before the trip to Cyprus. “I never talk about my conversations with the players,” United manager Ten Hag said at his pre-match press conference.
“They are between us. That’s quite clear. But when I tell you all the players, when you’re here and you’re happy, or satisfied, when you’re on the bench, this is not a club where you have to be, and especially Cristiano. He’s really competitive, as we all know. He’s not happy of course when he’s not playing. But I already said and, I have to repeat, he’s training well, he has a good mood, he’s motivated and he gives his best. That is what we expect.”
Ten Hag thanked City manager Pep Guardiola and his team for the reality check dished out at the Etihad. Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat-tricks in a match that showed the chasm between Ten Hag’s side and back-to-back Premier League champions City.
“Obviously it was a difficult day,” said the Dutch boss. “As always we analyse and we do that tough, the reality. It was a reality check, so we have to learn from it and carry on. You always take respect of the opponent but we will still stick to our philosophy, our rules, our principles.”
He added: “So thank you for the lesson, from Pep and City. We will take that and we have to understand we have to do things much better.”
Defenders Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane are among the absentees for United’s trip to Cyprus. The club are second in Group E after defeat against Real Sociedad and a win against Sheriff Tiraspol.
Arteta urges returning Nelson to prove his worth
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has challenged Reiss Nelson to seize his opportunity with the youngster set to return against Norway’s Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League today following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The 22-year-old winger, who spent last season on loan at Dutch side Feyenoord, has not featured this campaign due to a thigh injury he picked up in August. “After the spell that he had last year on loan, we wanted him back to see if there are any changes and there’s a prospect that we can really take to the next level,” Arteta told reporters. “We think the potential is there and we think we’ve seen something in Reiss that is special... I think everybody is talking about it and now he needs to do it on the pitch.”
Arteta added that the club were working on new contracts for William Saliba, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, youngsters who have played a pivotal role in Arsenal’s impressive start to the season. “We have to plan for the future. (Technical director) Edu is on top of it and all the board, and we will try to do things in the right way and reward the players that in our opinion have a big future for the club,” he said.
Bodo/Glimt are top of Group A with four points from two games while Arsenal are second after overcoming FC Zurich in their opening fixture. Last season the Norwegian team beat Serie A side AS Roma twice in four matches in the Europa Conference League, including a 6-1 thrashing, as well as knocking out Celtic and AZ Alkmaar.
Arsenal have a one-point lead at the top of the Premier League but Arteta insisted that Europe’s second-tier competition was not a distraction but a learning experience for his young team.
Forward could start just his fourth match when United take on Nicosia today