The Reds fell to a humiliating 6-3 defeat against local rivals City on Sunday afternoon as goals from Erling Haaland  and Phil Foden  sealed all three points for the reigning Premier League champions.
Antony and Anthony Martial  managed to claw back some pride in the second-half but ultimately, the damage was done early on following a lacklustre start from Ten Hag's men.
The Dutch manager, who has enjoyed mixed success during his opening months in charge, tried to change the course of the game by using all five of his substitutes.
Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Fred were all brought in the second period, while five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo was left to stir on their failings throughout.
As you can see in the below footage and pictures, Ronaldo was far from impressed after it emerged that he wouldn't be coming on to make an impact. And his reaction to City's third goal speaks volumes.
Casemiro and Ronaldo's reaction at the bench of Man United 😭 pic.twitter.com/pJqrrgM5En— Oliver Khan (@Ships_dealer) October 2, 2022
After the full-time whistle, Ten Hag was questioned about his decision to leave Ronaldo on the bench during his post-match press conference and well, his response has raised eyebrows amongst fans.
According to The Athletic journalist Laurie Whitwell, the former Ajax manager said he didn't bring on Portugal's all-time top goalscorer with the team 4-0 down "out of respect for his big career".
He added: "The other thing was the advantage I could bring Anthony Martial, he needs the minutes but I don't want to point it out like that."
You can see Ten Hag make those comments below.
"I wouldn't bring Cristiano Ronaldo on when we are 4-0 down out of respect for his big career" 🤔 pic.twitter.com/OCXF2XZcaT— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) October 2, 2022
When they made their final substitute of the day – Fred for Jadon Sancho – United were 5-1 down. So why not bring on arguably the greatest goalscorer of all time time to try and reduce the deficit?
Ten Hag says he didn't bring on Ronaldo with United 4-0 down "out of respect for his big career". #MUFC— Laurie Whitwell (@lauriewhitwell) October 2, 2022
As mentioned earlier, it's a topic that has brought plenty of debate online.
One fan commented: "Erik ten Hag says he didn't bring on Cristiano Ronaldo "out of respect for his big career". I find that an astonishing thing for a manager to both do and admit."
Another wrote: "Ten Hag has said that he didn't bring Ronaldo on 'out of respect for his career.' If he respected his career so much then he should have let him leave Utd during the summer."
A third said: "Ten Hag saying he didn't bring Ronaldo on out of respect for his career is an astonishing admission."
#MUFC had nothing to lose in second half & ended up scoring three goals. & Ronaldo playing well & getting on the scoresheet would have only helped ten Hag. So if he solely hasn't brought him on to somehow protect his 'pride' that's ridiculous & surely not what Ronaldo would want.— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) October 2, 2022
Some, however, respected Ten Hag's decision to 'respect' his player. One fan said: "He didn’t need to be on field today. That game required pace and control, he is lacking pace and we weren’t going to control the game.
"Another commented: "If you deep it, you'll realise that Ten Hag wants to protect their legacy, that's why they aren't starting. Respect."
I get his point to be honest . Bringing him on at 4-0 and 6-1 would have been an insult . ETH may not have delivered the line correctly and probably would have been best not saying it. ( although I like his honesty ) https://t.co/06sP310tWF— Gary Neville (@GNev2) October 2, 2022
Thoughts on Erik ten Hag's comment about leaving Ronaldo out? It's certainly an interesting one. Let us know.
Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports/The Mirror
- Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag 'wants another player out' of Old Trafford after Cristiano Ronaldo exit
- Erik ten Hag hits back at journalist after question about Cristiano Ronaldo
- Erik Ten Hag Says Cristiano Ronaldo Leaving Early Is 'Unacceptable' In Damning Interview
- Cristiano Ronaldo's sister hits out at Erik ten Hag