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Cristiano Ronaldo absolved of blame as Rio Ferdinand reveals Erik ten Hag mistake costing Man Utd dearly

Cristiano Ronaldo absolved of blame as Rio Ferdinand reveals Erik ten Hag mistake costing Man Utd dearly

Former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand has defended the reaction of Cristiano Ronaldo after he was substituted against Newcastle on Sunday.

The Red Devils were hoping to build on their 2-1 triumph over Everton but had to settle for a goalless draw with the Magpies. Ronaldo has mainly been used off the bench this term as Erik ten Hag looks to stamp his style on the side. But he was given the nod at Old Trafford at the weekend, with Eddie Howe’s men in town.

The Portugal skipper lasted 72 minutes before being replaced by Marcus Rashford.

The former Real Madrid ace was visibly frustrated at getting the hook and was seen mumbling to himself as he took his seat.

Ferdinand questioned the decision and felt it was only natural for the striker to show his feelings.

“Obviously he’s disappointed,” he told the Vibe with Five podcast. “He’s not happy. But if you take off any number nine when they’re still trying to score a goal they won’t be happy.

“But I always think, keep your goal scorers on the pitch at the end of a game to score goals.”

Ronaldo has scored just one top-flight goal in 2022-2023. That came against the Toffees while he was also on target against Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League.

He has been sparingly used by his Dutch manager despite scoring 700 goals in a glittering career.

And rumours persist that he may seek a winter exit to secure more game time.

Ferdinand backs Rashford entrance

Rashford has shown signs of getting back his form this season, with three league goals to his name.

Ferdinand had no problem with the England striker’s introduction but felt someone other than Ronaldo should have been removed.

“I agree with the decision to bring Marcus on, 100 per cent, but you keep your goals on the pitch,” he added. “Who else is going to get you the goal?

“If that ball comes in the box, like it did at the end of the game from Casemiro, then ideally you want that to be on the head of Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a big chance for Marcus, but he didn’t convert it. Which is fine.

“I agree, wholeheartedly. Bring Marcus into the equation but you don’t take off someone who’s your goal getter.”

Ronaldo still with work to do

Ronaldo managed to bag 24 goals in all competitions in 2021-2022. That was despite playing in a struggling Manchester United side seemingly devoid of confidence.

He has been jettisoned this season as Ten Hag seeks a system to compete with the top clubs once again.

It remains to be seen if the ex-Juventus ace can work his way back into the side on a regular basis.

And Ferdinand believes the superstar forward will be aware that he needs to up his level to press his case for inclusion.

“I think the manager seemed quite content with the performance,” he continued. “But he’s still way off where he needs to be which he’ll probably admit anyway.”

The stalemate sees United fifth in the standings. And they are next in action when Tottenham arrive at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday evening.

READ MORE: Ten Hag given renewed hope as reasons behind Man Utd target’s push for winter exit emerge

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