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Roy Keane points an accusing finger at Erik ten Hag in Cristiano Ronaldo row

Ten Hag confirmed 37-year-old Ronaldo refused to come on in the closing stages of United’s game against Tottenham on Wednesday nigh

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo© REUTERS

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane believes Erik ten Hag should take a large share of the blame for Cristiano Ronaldo’s rapid fall from grace at the club.

Ten Hag confirmed 37-year-old Ronaldo refused to come on in the closing stages of United’s game against Tottenham on Wednesday night, before he marched out of the stadium before the final whistle in a show of anger.

Ten Hag responded by dropping the Portuguese superstar from his squad for Saturday evening’s game at Chelsea, but Keane offered up an alternative view of the story to Sky Sports.

“I’m trying to see this from the player’s point of view – he’s obviously had enough. He’s lost his head,” declared Keane.

"That has been brewing. I’m going to try and defend him. He’s a human being and has got flaws, feeling frustrated that he’s not getting opportunities. He walked down the tunnel but players have done worse things at Manchester United – it happens, it’s human nature.

“Everyone was saying after the Spurs game it was Manchester United’s best performance in years. Absolute rubbish. Spurs were terrible. Ronaldo got a hat-trick when United best Spurs last season at home, so he’s more than capable of getting on the pitch and making a difference.”

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When he pondered whether Ronaldo could make a return for United after such a public dressing down, Keane added: “He has to take his punishment. Is there a way back for him? I’m not sure. I’d be more worried if he was laughing his head off on the bench for not caring. I think he cares.

"This game is full of bluffers, he isn’t one. He wants to play. He needs to play, a world class player. People say he’s not where he was 10 years ago – of course he’s not but he was the leading goalscorer for United last season in a really bad United team.

"They asked the manager in the press conference about Ronaldo refusing to come on but they should have asked him when was he going to put him on? Late in the game? I’m not too sure that was a clever move. He has to take his medicine. He’s done something he shouldn’t have done.

"Can he get back into the team before the World Cup? I don’t see it.”

Keane’s comments were back up by a statement from his former United team-mate Gary Neville suggesting the club should end Ronaldo’s stay at the club “in the coming days”, freeing him up to seal a move in the January transfer window.

Chelsea are among the clubs that have been linked with a move for Ronaldo, who has expressed a desire to play for a team competing in this season's Champions League.

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