ERIK TEN HAG has “no problem” with Cristiano Ronaldo getting the hump at being subbed — as long as he does not overdo it.
Ronaldo shook his head and muttered to himself as he was hooked in the 72nd minute for Marcus Rashford in Sunday’s goalless draw with Newcastle.
He tapped United boss Ten Hag’s hand as he walked past but continued to show he was unhappy with the decision as he sat down in the dugout shaking his head.
Ten Hag said: “I think no player is happy when he comes off, especially not Ronaldo. I understand that. As long as it’s in a quiet, normal way, no problem with that.
“Of course, he is convinced he should stay on and should score a goal, that is why he’s that good.”
Ten Hag now has a big decision to make over whether he starts Ronaldo again for Wednesday’s home match with Tottenham or goes for Rashford — or plays both with Rashford wide and Jadon Sancho benched.
Whatever he does, United need more goals as they stand on just 13 in the Prem from their nine games, the lowest in the top 11 with the exception of Bournemouth.
Not that it seems a problem for Ten Hag.
He said: “I think Marcus Rashford scored five goals out of 11, Antony wasn’t involved in the first three games but he has scored three in his first four appearances.
“Jadon Sancho has scored three goals, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored two goals and Anthony Martial, don’t forget him . . . three goals.
“We have players who can be productive and, as a matter of fact, it’s not a real concern.”
One big let-down for many fans has been Bruno Fernandes, who has just one goal and one assist this season.
But Ten Hag believes he is still getting enough from his Portuguese star despite the poor stats.
He said: “Bruno is playing really well this season.
“He can produce more goals and assists but I think he is often in the line of the goal.
“He is playing a massive role for us, in build up and in creativity and attacking, but also transition — in defensive transition he is magnificent.
“He is doing a really good job, so I am happy with his performance.”
Fernandes has been wearing the captain’s armband since Harry Maguire was dropped from the starting XI — and the way he has stepped up to that responsibility has also cheered Ten Hag.
He said: “He is really an example with the way he transfers the play for us, how he motivates those around him.
“He is the example with the energy he gives to the team. I know goals and assists will come.”
While silverware has been in short supply at Old Trafford of late, there was some on show before the game against Newcastle.
Sir Alex Ferguson handed out awards to mark Ronaldo’s 700 club goals and keeper David de Gea’s 500th United appearance.
De Gea’s future is up in the air despite expressing his desire to stay.
The Spaniard, 32 next month, has just this season left on his deal, with the club still to trigger an option to extend that by a further year.
Ten Hag said: “We didn’t make a decision on him but what I can say is that I am really happy with David de Gea as a keeper.
“His first two performances of the season were not his best but after you see he brings a lot to the defence department, gives stability and as a person I like him.”
Ten Hag denied that the lack of a new deal was to ensure De Gea keeps his performance level high.
He said: “That is something for the head and some players get motivated when you play for a contract. But it is not why we handle it like this.”
United face a Spurs team tonight riding high in the Premier League in third place, level on points with second-placed Manchester City and seven points ahead of the Red Devils.
Ten Hag is full of praise for the job that manager Antonio Conte is doing at Tottenham.
He said: “He is a fabulous manager. He’s won titles, trophies in the Premier League and Italy — and you can really see his signature on the team.”
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