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Cricket

Kevin Pietersen brands Man United boss Erik ten Hag a "clown" for his treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo

Rory O'Callaghan

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Kevin Pietersen brands Man United boss Erik ten Hag a "clown" for his treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo

England cricket legend Kevin Pietersen has scolded Manchester United for using an image of him on Instagram after being angered by the club's treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pietersen took exception to a picture of him being used on United's Instagram story to mark the ongoing T20 Cricket World Cup.

Images of several cricketers, including Pietersen, were posted on the club's official account, alongside the caption: "It's T20 World Cup szn. We've welcomed cricketing legends, played at iconic venues and met up with plenty of heroes over the years."

Pietersen has since instructed United to take down the post, branding manager Erik ten Hag a "clown" over his treatment of Ronaldo this season.

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"Please take my picture down? I don't want an association with a club that's managed by a clown who is completely disrespecting the greatest footballer of our time!," Pietersen commented.

"@cristiano is the BOSS! That clown who no one will ever remember needs a wake up!"

Ronaldo has been banished from United's first-team squad after refusing to come on as a substitute in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Tottenham.

The Portuguese star was seen heading down the tunnel at Old Trafford before full-time, with reports also claiming he left the stadium before the match had finished.

It is not the first time Ronaldo has prematurely left a United game this season, with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner also making an early exit in their pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano.

Ronaldo refused to come on against Tottenham on Wednesday (Image: Alamy)
Ronaldo refused to come on against Tottenham on Wednesday (Image: Alamy)

Speaking on Friday, Ten Hag confirmed Ronaldo had refused to come on against Tottenham and said he had been forced to punish the Portugal international after his latest disciplinary breach.

"The talk is between Cristiano and me. The statement is clear. It is also in the statement that he remains an important part of the squad," Ten Hag said.

"I am the manager, I am responsible for the culture here. I have to set standards and values and have to control them. We are in a team.

"After Rayo Vallecano, I said it was unacceptable, but it wasn't just him. The second time there has to be consequences. That is what has happened.

"We miss him tomorrow, that is a miss for us and the squad, but I think it is important for the attitude and mentality of the group and now we have to focus on Chelsea - that is the most important."

Ronaldo is now training alone at United and will play no part in Saturday's Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Pietersen is not the only high-profile name to defend Ronaldo, with Piers Morgan also accusing Ten Hag of disrespecting the Portuguese star.

"The way Ten Hag seems to delight in humiliating Cristiano is pathetic," Morgan tweeted.

"Sticking the world’s greatest ever footballer on the bench, making him repeatedly warm up, then not even use him as a sub, is just staggeringly disrespectful to United’s top scorer last season."

Ronaldo, meanwhile, reflected on his behaviour with a statement on Instagram in which he stopped short of offering a full apology.

"As I've always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches. That hasn't changed. I haven't changed," wrote Ronaldo.

Ronaldo has had a bit-part role this season under Erik ten Hag (Image: Alamy)
Ronaldo has had a bit-part role this season under Erik ten Hag (Image: Alamy)

"I'm the same person and the same professional that I've been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision making process.

"I started very young, the older and most experienced players examples were always very important to me. Therefore, later on, I've always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I've represented. Unfortunately that's not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us.

"Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates and be ready for everything in any given game. Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was.

"This is Manchester United, and united we must stand. Soon we'll be together again."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Cricket, Football, Premier League, Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag

Rory O'Callaghan
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