Manchester United were given another derby schooling by Manchester City on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag’s first taste of the fixture as United manager ended bitterly, as his side suffered a 6-3 defeat during which they trailed 4-0 at halftime and 6-1 after 72 minutes.
Erling Haaland and Phil Foden each scored hat-tricks for a rampant City, who conceded two late goals to Anthony Martial after Antony pulled one back shortly after the interval.
It was the third defeat in a row in this fixture for United since Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the club from Juventus last year. However, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was spared the ignominy of playing in his match, with Ten Hag choosing to leave him out as a mark of “respect”.
Did Cristiano Ronaldo play?
Cristiano Ronaldo was not involved in United’s 6-3 destruction at the hands of neighbours City.
The Portugal star was named among the substitutes as Ten Hag kept faith with the starting XI from the 3-1 win over Arsenal in their last Premier League match.
Shortly after Antony pulled a goal back to make it 4-1, Ten Hag substituted starting striker Marcus Rashford for Martial. He later took off Jadon Sancho for Fred in a change of system.
It meant Ronaldo remained an unused substitute, thereby failing to play a minute in a league match for the first time this season.
What did Erik ten Hag say?
At his post-match news conference, Ten Hag was asked why he decided not to bring on Ronaldo in the second half as United attempted to make the scoreline somewhat more respectable.
The United manager replied: “I wouldn’t bring him in, out of respect for Cristiano and his big career.” He added that two-goal striker Martial had needed to play to build up fitness following injury problems.
Ten Hag criticised his players for a “lack of belief” from the outset. He said: “I’ve seen some highlights; it was obvious. We didn’t defend on the front foot, we let them play, not brave enough, mistakes, and then you get hammered.
“They have to [accept criticism]. They showed against Liverpool, Arsenal, that when they perform as a team, bring the belief to the pitch…
“For the last five games, we bring that attitude to the pitch: strong belief. Today, it was the other way around. It’s normally in our process.
“We have to learn from it. We can walk away from it, but if we do, we will not get the solution.”
Midfielder Christian Eriksen told Sky Sports that the United players will have a meeting on Monday to discuss “everything that went wrong today”.
Cristiano Ronaldo stats 2022/23
Ronaldo was a second-half substitute in the 2-1 home loss to Brighton in August, having missed much of United’s preseason amid attempts to force a transfer away from the club.
He was recalled to the starting lineup for the 4-0 loss at Brentford but was then dropped for the 2-1 home win over Liverpool, in which he played four minutes as a substitute. He has not started a league game since.
In the Europa League, Ronaldo has started both of United’s group games to date: a 1-0 loss at home to Real Sociedad, and a 2-0 away win over Sheriff, in which he scored a penalty.
Source: Joe Wright